At the start of the school day Tuesday, Warsaw Christian School had 25 students out due to the flu.
By the end of the day, 28 or 29 were out, according to Doug Buller, administrator. There also were four teachers and a teacher’s aide out with a fever, and several teacher’s aides out with their sick children at home.
“We have 167 students in preschool to sixth grade,” he said.
Due to the high number of influenza cases, Warsaw Christian School announced Tuesday afternoon that it will be closed for the next three days per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Those days will be e-Learning days.
School will resume after spring break on April 8 with a scheduled two-hour delay.
“A number of students have influenza A and were told by their doctor not to come back until after spring break,” Buller said.
He said with 15 to 20 percent of the student body out, that concerned him. Then with a number of teachers out, and the difficulty of getting substitutes for them, that added to his concern.
“I was thinking about it and then I had students and staff coming in sick and I decided to make the call,” he said.
“I know we did this years before, but I don’t know if it was specifically for the flu. It was something that was going around. I want to do what’s best for the kids and their families,” Buller said.
Even if spring break wasn’t next week, he said it probably would have been good to close the school for at least five days. Spring break, along with the next three days off, will give the students and staff plenty of time to recover, he hoped.
Warsaw Christian isn’t the only area school seeing an uptick in the number of flu cases in its student population.
Warsaw Community Schools is the largest school corporation in the county with around 7,000 students. Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said he spoke with head nurse Tracey Akers and she told him the school district is getting hit by it.
“We’re not close to the 20 percent to get a CDC evaluation, but we will continue to watch it every day,” Hoffert said.
Akers told him they started to see Influenza A, which was not in the flu shot this year, and now there’s a wave of Influenza B countywide.
“We’re continuing to monitor it,” Hoffert said, adding that nurses are trying to keep track of how many students who get the flu had got the flu shot and how many didn’t get the shot.
“We’re not looking at closing any of the schools,” he said.
According to the CDC influenza report ending March 16, influenza activity remains elevated in the United States. Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09, influenza A(H3N2), and influenza B viruses continue to co-circulate. During the week ending March 16, 26 states – including Indiana – experienced high influenza-like illness activity. The CDC also says influenza is “widespread” in Indiana.
The CDC makes several recommendations to help reduce the spread of flu in schools, including:
• Encourage students, parents and staff to get a yearly flu vaccine.
• Encourage students, parents and staff to take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs. That includes encouraging students and staff to stay home when sick; cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or bent arm; provide adequate supplies within easy reach, including tissues and no-touch trash cans; practice handwashing.
• Educate students, parents and staff on what to do if someone gets sick.