Flu season hits the Ozarks: How to protect your children

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. This year, snow days are few and far between. But several schools have had to cancel class due to widespread illness.
The Stoutland School District called off classes for Thursday and Friday. School was in session Wednesday with a regularly scheduled half-day. However, district leaders reported 17 staff members called in sick Wednesday, and 100 of the 400 students were absent.
The district’s website reports several students have been diagnosed with Influenza B. The district advises parents that a child with a fever should be fever-free for 24 hours, without medication, before returning to school.
Last week, New Covenant Academy was closed on Friday because many students and teachers were sick.
“Our kids like to hug, and give high-fives. We were really having to tell the kids, kind of try to keep our hands to yourself,” said Matt Searson, the Chief Academic Officer of New Covenant Academy.
The private school in south Springfield has more than 500 students. He says they decided to call off class last Thursday because kids and teachers kept calling in sick. He says it gave everyone a chance to rest up and recover before they started a new week. It also gave the custodians a chance to thoroughly disinfect everything in the school.”
“I think it’s run its course,” said Searson, “It’s rare. This is I think, at least in the last eight years, the only time that we’ve cancelled because of that.”
Last month, the Everton School District also called off class for a day because of illness.
Germs can spread quickly through a school, but that’s not the only place your children are exposed to illnesses. Doctor Chanchal Suthar says you can even catch something while you’re out shopping for groceries, or eating at a restaurant.
“Sick kids come there, too. You know, you only think of daycares and schools, and you think that’s the end of it,” Dr. Suthar said.
She says wash your produce well, and of course, wash your hands often. She says catching a virus is easier than you might think.
“I’m not wiping with a tissue, and I shake hands with you, I can pass it on. So it’s very easy to pass it on from one person to another,” she explains.
Dr. Suthar also says it’s not too late to get a flu shot. Flu season doesn’t end until May.