The influenza season has hit school districts hard with students, faculty affected.
This influenza season is hitting hard across the country. School districts are always susceptible because of the number of students. Several schools were closed in Oklahoma last week because of the number of flu cases.
In Pratt at USD 382, school has not been canceled and there are no plans at this time to call off classes because of the flu, said USD 382 Superintendent Suzan Patton.
On Jan. 25, there were 77 student absent from Southwest Elementary, Liberty Middle School and Pratt High School. There are 1,126 students total in those three education centers and that works out to be about seven percent of the students.
While 77 is a huge number of students, when compared to the entire student body, it didn’t warrant closing school and losing a day of learning. With a district of this size, it would have to be a pretty significant number of students to close school, Patton said.
In the past, there have been a number of elementary school teachers that have gotten the flu as well as at the middle school but the schools have not been closed.
The custodial staff has been extra diligent in cleaning with lots of focus on door handles, water fountains, restrooms and anything that many students might handle.
“I’m very confident in our custodians as well as out teachers,” Patton said. “Teachers pay attention to keyboards and desks.”
With President’s Day coming up on Feb. 19, the custodians will utilize that time when students aren’t in the building for some extra cleaning and sanitizing.
Several factors would be considered before closing school. The students, the teachers and the number of substitutes would have to be added into the equation. If there weren’t enough subs this would impact the quality of education, Patton said.
District Nurse Glenda Houdyshell rotates through district buildings through the week and keeps the Patton informed on numbers.
Every situation is different and all parts would be looked at before making the decision to close. Closing would have an impact on both students and teaching staff. For right now, the schools will operate as usual.
“We don’t have the numbers that warrant closing the school,” Patton said.
For the students that are sick, the district encourages parents to not send students back to school too early. The student could still be carrying the virus and get more students sick or the student could suffer a relapse.
The district always encourages good health practices for students and teachers. The district wellness plan includes a $20 reimbursement for teachers that get the flu shot.
The district will continue to monitor the situation and if numbers should change, things will be re-evaluated. They will consider number of students and teachers absent and severity of flu in making a decision.
With January done, Patton is hopeful they will get through February and get past the peak of flu season.