Sickness closes schools six days in two weeks

Posted February 12, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Attendance numbers

are up this week

Clinton County, like the rest of the state and most of the nation, has suffered through one of the worst flu seasons in the latter part of 2019 and the first couple of months of 2020, in recent memory.

So severe, in fact, that school officials made the decision two weeks straight, to cancel classes for three days each week in hopes of giving the illness time to run its course without contributing to its spread by having students and school staff hold-up together in the same buildings, passing the virus back and forth.

When students returned to class on Monday of this week after being off last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, attendance numbers showed a positive upward trend from where they had been when the decision was made last week to again cancel classes for the second straight week.

Julie York, Director of Pupil Personnel for the Clinton County School District, told the Clinton County News on Monday of this week that attendance rate for students on that day was at 90.5 percent. Attendance on Tuesday showed an even much better rate, increasing to 94.44 percent, according to York.

She said that on the previous Tuesday, February 4, student attendance had dropped to 84.88 percent, prompting officials to again make the decision to cancel classes for three straight days.

York also said that in the previous week, attendance on Tuesday, January 28, had dropped to just below 90 percent, but the system was feeling pressure to close for three days not necessarily because of the low student attendance.

“At that time, it had not only affected our students, but our adults – teachers, classified staff and bus drivers – and it was really hard,” York explained Monday in an email response to a Clinton County News inquiry. “We were not only struggling with student attendance, but covering with enough substitutes for the adults as well.”

According to reports from the Kentucky Health News, the state’s youngest residents have been the hardest hit this flu season.

Of these just over 15,000 reported cases of flu, nearly 6000 have involved patients 10 years of age or younger.

However, York told the News Monday that in the Clinton County School population, she hadn’t seen that trend.

“Actually ours have been pretty even across the board,” York said.

According to this week’s Kentucky Health News report distributed to rural news outlets on Monday morning of this week, reported cases of the flu continued to increase in early February.

New cases of influenza inched up again in Kentucky during the week ending February 1, and eight more adults in the state were reported having died from it. So far, 41 Kentuckians have died from the flu this season, three under age 18, according to the Department for Public Health.

The latest weekly report shows in the week ending February 1, Kentucky counted 1,815 new cases, a slight increase from the 1,739 reported the previous week.

During this flu season, 15,102 cases have been reported in Kentucky. The actual number is higher because not all flu cases are counted; flu does not have to be reported, and six counties did not contribute to the latest report.

The latest numbers show that the flu is at least twice as bad as it was last year at this time, when there were 7,285 confirmed cases of the flu, and 21 deaths, one under the age of 18.

Health officials recommend that everyone over six months old get an annual flu vaccination. It is not too late, since the season usually runs through May.

Schools across the state continue to cancel due to “widespread illness” Last week, Fayette County, one of the largest school districts in the state, canceled school for two days.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.