We appreciate your questions about the flu and its impact on our schools, as well as your concerns about reports of parents who tested positive for flu coming into our schools and of students coming to school with temperatures. Most of the flu-positive parents were wearing masks, although masks are not 100 percent effective against spreading the flu.
As you know, our district works closely with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to monitor our absences and to watch for clusters of illnesses. With that system and our own local system of monitoring, we have what we call “tipping points.” For instance, if we had more than 10 percent of students at a school out with the same illness, we would sit down and discuss our options.
Right now, the number of absences Lexington District One is seeing compares to the number we normally see at this time of year. That could change quickly, however, as we have one or two schools approaching 10% or more of their students out sick.
We are fortunate to have registered nurses in our schools. Each day, those nurses monitor our students and staff for flu-like symptoms (temperature of 100 degrees or more, headache, muscle aches, sweating, sore throat, cough, extreme fatigue). With the help of our teachers, they also regularly emphasize health, hygiene and safety by talking about the importance of not rubbing their eyes or nose, frequent hand-washing, good hand-washing habits and good cough technique in order to reduce the spread of any disease.
As parents, you can help, too. Please talk to your children about the importance of frequent hand-washing and good hand-washing habits in order to reduce the sharing of germs. For instance, let them know that you should wash your hands at least 10 times a day. You read that right — 10 times. When the military encouraged their employees to wash their hands at least 10 times a day, they cut their illness rate by 25 percent.
If your child complains about not feeling well, please check your child’s temperature before sending him/her to school. If your child has a fever of 100 degrees or more before you give him/her Tylenol, Advil, Motrin or any other appropriate fever-reducing medication, keep your child at home. Adults can pass the flu virus to others up to one day before and three to seven days after symptoms start. Children can share the virus for longer than seven days after their symptoms begin.
Please remember, too, that if your child has a fever of 100 degrees or more before taking Tylenol, Advil, Motrin or any other fever-reducing medication, that child should stay home until he or she is fever-free for 24 hours. This is true even if your child is using an antiviral medicine. With flu, it may take from three to five days for the fever to break.
We know how important your children are to you. Please make sure that your child’s school has your current emergency telephone numbers. Obviously, you want to know when your child is sick so that you can pick your child up from school.
Thank you for helping us as we work to keep your children healthy.
Mary Beth Hill
Chief Communications Officer