Hancock County News

Flu taking its toll on Hancock County schools

Hancock County schools have been dealing with a three letter word that no administrator, teacher or parent cares too much for – flu.

According to officials from several schools and school districts, flu and strep viruses have been running rampant across the county.

Greenfield-Central Community School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin told Giant FM his district has seen an increase in absenteeism from students.

“Though it has not been at the epidemic level,” Olin said.

The district sent a note home to all parents with expectations for students returning from an illness.  The letter, sent by Dawn Hanson, a registered nurse and nurse for the district, said that in addition to the flu, Greenfield-Central Schools have seen an increase in reports of stomach viruses in the home.

“We prioritize the health of our students and staff, and we appreciate your support in helping us provide a healthy building for your student and our staff,” Hanson wrote.

Hanson also suggested that personal devices such as iPads and phones be cleaned regularly and should a parent be contacted by the school due to illness, they are asked to pick the student up promptly.

“This will help limit the exposure that other students and staff members will have to the illness,” Hanson wrote.

At Southern Hancock Schools, officials confirmed to Giant FM they have also seen illnesses across their schools.

Wes Anderson, community relations director, told Giant FM flu cases are down this year compared to last, however, officials are seeing something else.

“We are dealing with the spread of a stomach bug right now,” Anderson said.

Anderson also has tips for parents.

“The flu is highly contagious and can spread from person to person by breathing in the droplets in a cough, sneeze or runny nose that contain the flu. People with the flu may be able to infect others by shedding virus as early as one full day before getting sick through a period five to seven days after symptoms begin,” Anderson said.

Anderson mentioned those with the flu may feel tired, have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, as well as vomiting or diarrhea.

“Deciding to keep your child home from school is never easy. It’s important for children to attend school and for parents staying home means missing work. However, when a child is truly sick, they need to stay home in the care of an adult to get well and to prevent spreading illnesses to others. Keep your child home if they have a fever of at least 100 degrees. Wait at least 24 hours after the fever is gone and 24 hours after vomiting and diarrhea subsides without the use of medications before sending your child back to school,” Anderson said.

The Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation has also seen illness recently, according to officials. Maria Bond, director of community relations, told Giant FM the district deals annually with the challenges the flu can bring.

Bond also said a classroom at Fortville Elementary recently had an infection control specialist from Hancock Health speak to their class on common school infections and how they spread.
“This is part of their curriculum as they will be studying a mystery (pretend) infection and will use scientific methods to deduce where the mystery infection began in the school,” Bond said.

One school that was hit hard with disease was St. Michael Catholic School in Greenfield. According to staff, 28 percent of students and 20 percent of teachers were out this week.