NEWS

Flu symptoms plague Sandwich schools

Paul Babin

An outbreak of flu-like symptoms at the Sandwich Public Schools has caused student attendance to plummet.

School Nurse Leader Celine Hardy said at last week’s school committee meeting that the district’s attendance rate has dropped to 87 percent.

“We have flu cases in all of our buildings. We have started the flu season very early this year. Typically this time of the year attendance runs basically 96 to 98 percent.”

She said attendance usually doesn’t dip below 90 percent until January or February when the seasonal flu breaks out.

She said students with flu like symptoms probably have H1N1 flu, also known as the swine flu.

“Flu has come early. The cases that are here now are most likely H1N1. The seasonal flu doesn’t start until later.”

She explained that state health officials are not testing people with flu symptoms for the H1N1 virus unless they are hospitalized.

She said everyone hospitalized with flu symptoms has tested positive for H1N1.

Hardy said the district has sent information home to parents about flu prevention and has purchased extra hand sanitizer for classrooms without sinks.

Teachers are also regularly disinfecting the desks in their classrooms.

“We’re really encouraging the kids to wash their hands and use cough etiquette,” Hardy said.

She said the school nurses are monitoring flu symptoms in the schools and that e-mail updates are being sent out to teachers and staff about the virus.

Sandwich has received a limited amount of the H1N1 vaccine that is available to pregnant women, health care workers and children with chronic illnesses.

Sandwich Broadsider