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The H1N1 swine flu has reached Clear Creek County schools, but according to school district nurse Candy McIlvain, there’s no reason for parents to panic. During the week of Sept. 21, more than …
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The H1N1 swine flu has reached Clear Creek County schools, but according to school district nurse Candy McIlvain, there’s no reason for parents to panic.
During the week of Sept. 21, more than 50 middle/high school students were out sick, McIlvain said, but she can’t be sure whether those students were sick specifically with H1N1.
“How many of them had the H1N1, and how many of them really had those symptoms? We don’t really know because parents don’t always tell us,” McIlvain said.
The last week of September, the number of absent students dropped to just 15.
“We are seeing the whole gamut. We are seeing kids with chest congestion, fevers and we are also seeing the regular routine stuff like strep and just the common cold,” McIlvain said.
She said the number of sick children is not large, but she thinks the cases of illness will likely linger at least another month into the school year.
“First of all, parents are not keeping kids home from school long enough, and we are having to send kids home from school because they are sick when they come to school,” McIlvain said. Once the flu vaccine is available, she expects it will take a couple weeks to see fewer absences.
Not many of the county’s elementary school students are getting sick, she said.
Regarding high school kids, McIlvain said: “Even though we tell them, ‘Don’t come to school if you’re not feeling well,’ they feel obligated, and then they go home. They are sick for a day, and then they come back because they don’t want to miss a class,” McIlvain said.
Younger students tend to stay home when they’re sick because their parents keep them at home until they don’t have fevers.
McIlvain said the schools are taking precautions to help keep possible H1N1 infections down, such as reminding students to stay home if sick and to wash their hands frequently.
“Some of the teachers, I think, are even having the kids wash their hands as they walk into the classroom,” McIlvain said. “We have surface wipes so the teachers can wipe down their phones, the kids’ desks, the doorknobs, things like that — the janitors are cleaning my office really well every day.”
She cautions teachers to wash their hands as well, but McIlvain said she isn’t particularly concerned about H1N1.
“I worry more about secondary infections like pneumonia, ear infections, things like that than I do about the flu,” McIlvain said. “You can’t do anything about the flu except keep the kid hydrated and then use whatever the doctor recommends.”
McIlvain said she knows parents are panicked about H1N1 based on what is being reported in the news. She said parents take care of their children when they have the regular flu, and the H1N1 flu really is no different.
“I think that everybody’s really being hyper-vigilant, which I think is good, but I think that it’s scaring a lot of parents,” McIlvain said. “I just don’t like the idea that parents are scared to death ….”
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