While a deadly international virus is grabbing headlines, the more common winter-time flu has closed some schools in the region but none in Butler or southern Warren counties.
The spread of the coronavirus has captured the attention of the world but in southwest Ohio some school districts and school buildings were forced to cancel classes Friday due to the large number of student absences caused by seasonal flu and colds.
Among those closed were Centerville Schools in southern Montgomery County, East Dayton Christian School, Wenzler Daycare and Learning Center and Wilmington Schools in Clinton County.
The new flu numbers released Friday show 3,642 Ohioans were hospitalized this flu season as of Jan. 26, up from the prior weekly report’s count of 3,034 hospitalizations.
But locally, no school districts in Butler and southern Warren counties are reporting similar problems.
Though some school districts, such as the 10,000-student Hamilton Schools, have officials reporting a few of the schools are seeing a relatively minor bump in the number of students absent due to illness.
“I checked with our schools and they have had some students out with the flu or flu like symptoms, stomach virus or strep, but no major increases in absences like I have heard about in other schools” in the region, said Joni Copas, spokeswoman for Hamilton Schools.
Warren County’s largest district – the 11,000-student Mason Schools – reported no out of the ordinary health problems as did the adjacent Kings Schools in the southern part of the county.
The 16,500-student Lakota Schools, which comprise the largest district in Butler County, also has not seen an unusual jump in student absences so far, but district officials are emphasizing preventive measures for students and staffers.
“Many of our principals communicate with their parents through weekly newsletters about common illnesses that they are seeing in their buildings,” said Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for Lakota Schools.
“We encourage handwashing, the use of hand sanitizer and covering your cough and sneeze in your elbow, not your hand. Parents are always encouraged to keep their child at home when they are sick to help stop the spread of germs. Lakota Schools also works closely with the health department when we are seeing unusual patterns or numbers of illness.”
“When we see an increase in absences due to illnesses, such as the flu, our nursing staff notifies the maintenance department. Different procedures and cleaning agents are used are added to the regular daily cleaning that is always done as a preventative measure,” she said.
A.J. Huff, spokeswoman for Butler Tech – which draws high school students from all public school districts in the county – said that “we are ‘over communicating’ the importance of hand-washing, how to minimize the spread of germs, and when it is appropriate to miss and return to school due to illness.”
“Our attendance is typical for this time of year with seasonal illness. However, we clearly have a heightened awareness to what is happening across the county,” said Huff.
“We are following our cleaning and disinfectant procedures with special attention taken in areas that could pose a high risk of sharing germs,” she said.
Staff Writer Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this story
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