Districts taking steps to keep the flu from spreading in schools

Districts taking steps to keep the flu from spreading in schools
Hand sanitizer lines the halls of Purvis High School in Lamar County. Source: WDAM.

PINE BELT (WDAM) - Schools in several states have had to cancel classes, some for days at a time, after students and staff became sick. That has some Pine Belt school districts taking steps to keep a clean and healthy environment on campus.

Petal Schools Superintendent Matt Dillon said the district has ramped up efforts with cleaning crews.

"We've taken a more aggressive approach with our cleaning, from door knobs and certain spots, and spending more time cleaning in classrooms and common areas where our kids are," said Dillon.

Dillon said there has been a slight decline in attendance, but he said that could be due to the flu, flu-like symptoms or the mix in weather we've had in South Mississippi.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleaning areas with soap or detergent removes germs, while disinfecting with certain chemicals does help to kill those germs.

The Lamar County School District recently added "The Flu:  A Guide for Parents" on its website.   Superintendent Tess Smith said she saw a need for substitute teachers following the holiday break.

"This time of the year you have to make that adjustment and be more thoughtful of it," said Smith.

Smith said she sent an email to teachers Wednesday with tips on how to prevent the spread of the flu in the classroom.

"Our teachers are great about it," said Smith.  "They are behind closed doors with those kids for extended periods of time, so they try to teach them or remind them of good hygiene, cough into your sleeve if you don't have a tissue, that kind of thing."

At Purvis High School, hand sanitizer lines the hallways with extra dispensers scattered through common areas.

"Even with our younger ones, we take them to the restroom and remind them to wash their hands," Smith said.

One tip for teachers is to pay attention to their own health, as well as students. To keep the classrooms flu-free, that could mean sending a student home.

"The kid wakes up, is fine and eats breakfast, gets on the bus and gets sick before they get to school, those things can happen," Smith said.  "Thankfully, we have nurses available and if a teacher sees that need, they immediately send the student to the nurse so they can have an evaluation and the nurse contacts the parent to see what else can be done."

Both superintendents agree it doesn't seem the flu virus has been a need for any panic, yet.  The CDC reports this flu season has not yet reached its peak and could last through April.