Multiple viruses spread throughout area school districts

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NORTH MISS. (WCBI) – The start of the school year is always busy.

There’s the back to school shopping, the first day of class, and the new schedule.

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Getting the Flu is probably the last thing on a parent’s mind, but that’s not the case in our area.

So far there’s been one case of the flu in the Lowndes County School District and multiple cases of the stomach virus in the Aberdeen School District.

School nurses and teachers are trying to head off both illnesses before more students are affected.

We’re only nine days into the school year, and students across the area are already calling in sick.

“This year has been the first year that we have had a virus going around at the beginning. Several students have went home from vomiting and having a fever,” said Aberdeen Elementary Principal Kristen Fondren.

“We’ve seen several cases of strep throat. I did hear that we’ve had a case of the flu already in August. So those are the main things so far,” said New Hope Elementary School Nuse Kim Woodruff.

Woodruff said this time of year is odd timing for a virus like the flu.

“Usually this is kind of early just for the flu mainly. Last year wasn’t a bad flu season, the year before that was a really bad flu season. So, yes this early in August to have a flu case reported is pretty early,” said Woodruff.

Educators said younger students are especially vulnerable to multiple viruses.

“Because we use tables, we have community supplies. They share the supplies, which is scissors, glue, and erasers, and things of that nature… They’re touching other peoples iPads. We have earbuds in the room for every kid, or an earphone, so we like to clean those often to keep germs off of those,” said New Hope Elementary First Grade Teacher Pam Oswalt.

Woodruff said because of the recent outbreak, she’s even changing up some her tactics when it comes to educating children about germs.

“Instead of the high fives, like we used to do, we teach them to do gently fist bumps in order not to share germs… We have friendly germs and then we have some not so friendly germs. So, we talk about handwashing, singing happy birthday to themselves silently two times. We talk about coughing or sneezing into their elbow or their shirt instead of coughing into their hands,” said Woodruff.

As for children that are already sick, school districts are urging parents to take certain steps to avoid spreading germs.

“Please keep them home so we can minimize the germs and other students won’t get sick,” said Fondren.

“If you and your family are able to get a flu vaccine, please do so. Usually, you can talk to your doctor about it. It’s recommended usually in October, late October,” said Woodruff.

Both districts say their school districts supply each classroom with hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes, but parents are encouraged to donate other cleaning supplies.

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