Flu season reportedly mild in Butler County schools

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 6, 2007

Despite widespread influenza activity in Alabama, Superintendent Mike Looney said Butler County schools have faired &#8220typically” this flu season as far as attendance goes.

Looney said during what school administrators considers the peak of flu season - the end of November - numbers system-wide fell from an average daily attendance of 95.9 percent to 91.58 percent.

&#8220In short, this year's flu season has proven to be fairly typical in that we have experienced about a five percent increase in absenteeism across the district,” said Looney. &#8220Given that most predictions called for this season to be a particularly active influenza season we have faired well thus far.”

Looney credits local physicians and the Department of Public Health for helping ensure the public receives proper diagnosis and vaccination from the flu.

&#8220An example of this was even evident at the central office when recently flu shots were made available to employees while at work,” said Looney. &#8220Beginning with the current school year we have employed additional nurses to work directly with students, teachers, and parents in prevention education. Our nurses are responsible for screening ill students, contacting parents when a student is suspected as being contagious and for isolating risk associated to infectious exposures.”

Looney also credited the system's custodians for minimizing the existence of germs and bacteria. Viruses such as the flu can live for up to two hours or longer on surfaces such as cafeteria tables, doorknobs and desks.

&#8220These men and women work tirelessly to disinfect and clean our campuses so that our kids have the opportunity to learn in a clean environment,” said Looney.

Looney said Georgiana High School experienced the largest hit in relation to total enrollment, falling to 86.13 percent attendance during the week examined, or a loss of 38 students.

More students were absent at schools in Greenville during the same time period, but because of the larger enrollments average daily attendance did not suffer as much, said Looney.

Greenville High School had 67 students absent, while Greenville Middle School had 65, and 47 students were absent from W.O. Parmer Elementary School. 19 students were absent from Greenville Elementary School.

At last update (Dec.23, 2006), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was reporting widespread cases of influenza in the southeast, especially in Florida, Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama.