Published 12:05 am Friday, February 8, 2013



Flu season is well under way and local school officials are reminding parents of the necessity of keeping sick children at home.

Andalusia City Schools head nurse Melinda Carrasco said that flu season is currently in its peak, and they are seeing an increase in absences in the workplace and in schools due to Type B flu.

Type A flu, which is considered more aggressive, peaked before Christmas, she said.

Absentee reports show that 82 students were out at Andalusia Elementary School on Wednesday and 90 on Thursday; 28 students were absent both days at Andalusia Middle School; and 32 out on Wednesday at Andalusia High School and 43 on Thursday.

“Our goal at ACS is to prevent the spread of infection and to inform parents so that those students who are sick, stay home,” said Carrasco. “Symptoms of the flu may include dry cough, headache, fever, body weakness and aches, sore throat, running nose and stomach disturbances.”

Carrasco said that people are typically contagious for up to seven days from the onset of symptoms.

“We want to make sure that parents are aware of this,” she said. “Any student with a temperature greater than 100 is to remain at home for 24 hours after last taking fever-reducing medication.”

Carrasco said during that window, students are most contagious.

“In an effort to educate our students, we remind them several times a day to wash their hands with soap and water, and we constantly remind them to cough into their sleeves,” she said. “We disinfect the work areas daily because the flu virus can live on surfaces for eight hours or more.”

Carrasco said that Bridget Brannon will present “House of Germs” next week.

“This is a fun and educational demonstration that teaches students about germ-control,” Carrasco said. “We like to use every opportunity to teach our students good hygiene and they will tell you that the No. 1 way to prevent the spread of germs is to wash your hands.”

In Opp, Superintendent Michael Smithart said the flu hasn’t impacted them that much this week.

“The elementary school is up somewhat and middle school increased today but it’s not something we are alarmed with right now, but we are continuing to monitor it,” Smithart said.

Opp High School saw between 24-29 absences on Wednesday and Thursday; Opp Middle School increased from 26 on Wednesday to 45 on Thursday; and Opp Elementary School had 59 on Wednesday and was down to 54 on Thursday.

Absentee reports from Covington County Schools show that there were 454 absences from the schools, which includes Straughn, Red Level, Florala, WS Harlan, Pleasant Home and Fleeta.

The highest number of those were from Straughn Elementary School with 93 absences.