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Virus could affect 40-day numbers

Tuesday will start the count for what is traditionally called “40-day enrollment numbers” average daily membership at Alabama schools. Those totals determine how much state funding a school receives in the upcoming fiscal year.

And with a number of health ailments, including a stomach virus and summer colds, hitting local schools, it could wreck havoc with those numbers while superintendents are hoping to see every desk filled.

“This time period is crucial to us because funding is determined by the 40- day count,” said Covington County Schools Superintendent Terry Holley. “It’s what sets our funding for the next school year, so it’s very important to have kids there at school.”

Holley said last year’s flu outbreak was such that the state gave special consideration to schools experiencing high absence numbers.

“Flu did impact us,” he said. “The state recognized that and gave us some relief, but if something comes up at local schools, it could be something that would impact us again.”

Holley said school nurses distributed information designed to promote student health.

“It’s important that parents help us as much as possible to keep kids in school, but if they’re sick, we understand,” he said. “But if (the student) is able to come, we’d love to have them. During proration time and with the cutbacks over the last three or four years, it’s crucial to keep the count up.”

Andalusia City Schools Superintendent Ted Watson agreed with Holley.

“Every dollar we get from the state is based on those numbers,” Watson said. “But kids get sick. We understand that, but if they can get to school, we want them here.”

Melinda Carrasco, system wide nurse for the ACS, said this week they school system has seen some cases of the stomach virus, but there’s not an epidemic.

Still, Carrasco said parents can help by keeping their children at home when they have fever or if they are vomiting or have diarrhea.

“It’s also important to keep them hydrated,” she said. “Don’t forget they have to be fever free without Motrin for 24 hours before returning to school.”

Kendra Bolling contributed to this report.