A scourge of strep throat and influenza B has left schools in Highland experiencing high numbers of absences.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, 12 percent of students at Highland Middle School and Highland High School called in sick. HMS reported 101 of its 642 students absent, while Highland High School recorded 88 of 953 out with illness.
“We are hopeful that things improve as we move to the end of the week and weekend,” said Highland Superintendent Mike Sutton said.
Sutton said district’s lower grade levels had not experienced that volume of kids calling in sick seen at the high school and middle school, and the absences are not expected to impact any events or school functions.
District employees have been in contact with the public health officials to receive guidance on precautionary procedures and are making extra efforts with the custodial staff to disinfect surfaces after hours. Administrators might also start quarantining public water fountains, asking kids to bring their own water bottles to contain the viruses.
Meanwhile, Sutton said that the administration is trying to communicate with parents about the need for children to stay home when they are exhibiting symptoms, including a sore throat, cough, headache, stomach ache and/or a fever. Administrators are asking that parents not their children to come back to school unless they have been free of fever for 24 hours without the help of medication.
Madison County Health Department public information officer Amy Jaeger said that this time of year is the peak of flu season, so it is not surprising that community officials are reporting higher instances of viruses.
“The only thing we can advise is to follow preventative measures such as the three C’s and to get your flu shot,” Jaeger said.
When addressing the “three C’s” Jaeger would like to remind people to clean their hands, cover their noses and mouths and contain the virus by staying home when the virus presents symptoms.
According to Jaeger, flu shots are still attainable this year and can be received at the walk-in Madison County Department of Public Health Clinic, located at 101 E. Edwardsville Road in Wood River. Flu shots are given at the clinic on Mondays from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., however, the clinic is closed every day between 12-1 p.m. for lunch hours. The clinic takes many, but not all, forms of insurance. For more information on the clinic, call (618)-692-8954, ext. 2.