Flu Virus Spreading in Schools Across State, Nation

Peak flu season may be over, but doctors say the flu is still active through March and often well into May. School nurses report younger children being the most likely to contract the illness, because they’re often sitting close to each other for hours a day.

Butler County Lead Nurse Debbie Hyatt says the symptoms she looks for include an achy body, a fever or chills, and respiratory distress. If a student comes to her door showing those symptoms, there’s only one thing to do.

“We have a list that we keep in every school, of students who meet that criteria,” she says. “With an elevated temp, cough and respiratory symptoms and we send them home with parents to take them to the doctor.”

Hyatt says parents who take their child to the doctor need to report back to the school if the flu test comes back positive. School administrators need to properly disinfect the classrooms the student was in and monitor the health of classmates. Hyatt adds that after the student is fever and symptom free for 24 hours with no medication, they are no longer contagious and can come back to school.

Greenville Elementary School Principal Kent McNaughton has sent up to eight students home with flu symptoms in one day’s time, but says that’s unusual.

“We daily wipe down all desks, chairs, door knobs, and any high traffic areas in the school to try to prevent the spread of the flu virus,” he says.

While other schools in Alabama have cancelled school due to illness this flu season, McNaughton says Butler County has never done that in his time teaching. He adds, however, that anything is possible.

“It would be on the suggestion from either the state department or local doctors and physicians in our areas, saying that that would be the best step to get the flu or whatever we may be facing under control.”

Doctors say it’s not too late to get a flu shot this year. The shot takes up to two weeks to become fully effective, but that could still stop anyone from catching the illness.

Categories: South Alabama