Sick Days

Published 10:57 am Wednesday, February 25, 2009

With one quarter of its students calling in sick and scores of others in class but still suffering, Ironton City Schools officials are canceling classes for the rest of the week. Others schools in Lawrence County are also feeling the effects of the flu and other “bugs” but have not canceled classes.

Ironton Superintendent Dean Nance said 366 students were absent from class Tuesday. Four students have been hospitalized because of the severity of their illness. Nance guessed that of those who did show up for school, a third of them are sick but chose to come to school anyway. And this doesn’t account for the staff who have called in sick.

“We’re better off to call school off and give everyone a chance to heal,” Nance said. “As it is we’re passing this back and forth.”

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While the students and teachers are out of the buildings, Nance said custodial workers will use exercise particular care to kill germs and clean desks and so forth so kids aren’t re-infected when they return.

Wes Hairston, principal at Rock Hill Middle School, no doubt has empathy for Nance’s situation. Of his 400 students, 72 called in sick Tuesday and another 10-15 went home sick during the school day. Normally RHMS has 15 or so students absent so the increase is a cause for concern.

“This is something we are monitoring very closely,” Hairston said. “When we’re getting into the 60s and 70s (absentees) this is not very good.” He said some of his students have also been hospitalized recently because of illness.

Fairland High School secretary Mary Cooper said 54 of the school’s 532 students called in sick Tuesday, primarily with the stomach flu or strep throat. Is that significant?

“For Fairland, it is,” Cooper said. The rest of schools in the Fairland District are not reporting spikes in the absentee rate.

Dawson-Bryant Board of Education Secretary Garnett Webb said the flu bug has hit the district’s middle school but not the adjacent high school nor the elementary in Deering.

While some schools are battling the bug, others have eluded the problem.

Vicki Neighborgall, counselor at St. Joseph High School, said the city’s Catholic system does not have any more student absences than usual. Some teachers are sick but working anyway, she said.

Holly Lambert, a clerk at Symmes Valley Board of Education, said the same thing.

An employee at South Point schools who did not give her name said as far she knew the district had no problem with illness at this time.

Also Dr. Scott Howard, superintendent at Chesapeake Schools, said currently no principal has told him about any excessive absences in any of the schools.