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School absentee rate stable despite flu

POSTED: September 25, 2009 8:46 a.m.
While some Georgia school systems are experiencing unusually high student absentee rates due to the abnormal flu season — some districts have reported double the normal rate — Liberty County School System administrators said rates in our schools are stable.
“Although we have seen a slight increase in absenteeism due to illness, we are pleased that the illnesses have not been as severe as predicted,” said Carol Darsey, head nurse for the LCSS. “Liberty County School System is monitoring absenteeism rates to help identify outbreaks and provide a better understanding of the trend in our school system.
“We have not seen the increase of 10 percent absenteeism that requires us to report to the state,” she said.
Similarly, both high schools remain relatively unaffected at this point.
“At Liberty County High School, we have not had a significant increase in student absences,” said LCHS Principal Paula Scott.
Students attending Brad-well Institute are continuing to show up to classes as normal as well.
“We have not seen a marked difference at all,” said Dr. Vicki Albritton, principal of Bradwell Institute.
While administrators aren’t too worried right now, they realize students are one of the most affected populations during flu season, and they will continue to monitor all students and encourage them to practice healthy habits.
“Children are a major source of the spread of disease,” Darsey said. “According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources, children shed the greatest amount of virus and pose the greatest risk for transmission.”
Darsey and the other LCSS nurses have prepared students, teachers, staff and parents for the abnormal season by teaching hygienic procedures for sneezing, coughing and for washing hands.
 “School nurses continue to provide infectious disease monitoring for influenza like illnesses as well as other communicable diseases to detect possible outbreaks in the schools,” Darsey said.  “Liberty County School System recently sent a letter home with students to parents to make them aware of what we are doing to keep our students and staff healthy and safe in schools.”
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