TOWER- With over 75percent of the student body out sick as of Wednesday, the Tower-Soudan Elementary School is closing on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 16 and 17. There was no school scheduled on Monday, …
TOWER- With over 75percent of the student body out sick as of Wednesday, the Tower-Soudan Elementary School is closing on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 16 and 17. There was no school scheduled on Monday, Jan. 20, so classes will resume on Tuesday, Jan. 21.
The school reported 59 students out sick on Wednesday, up from 38 the day before. According to school staff on Tuesday, at least 10 students had confirmed cases of influenza.
Vermilion Country School, the grade 7-12 school in Tower, is not reporting any flu-like illness at this time.
ISD 2142 Superintendent Reggie Engebritson said they are not seeing similar outbreaks at other district schools, but that Mt. Iron-Buhl, where she is also superintendent, had 80 students out on Wednesday.
As of Jan. 4, 308 schools statewide have reported outbreaks of ILI, but only one in St. Louis County. Overall, the state is reporting that influenza-like illness (ILI) is widespread.
Schools are required to report to the state department of health when at least five percent of the student body is out with ILI or if three or more students from the same classroom are out with ILI. The department does not recommend that schools close to prevent flu transmission but notes that schools can choose to close if a large number of absences prevent normal school functioning.
The illnesses have struck both students and school staff. Several paras and other support staff have been out sick, as well as one teacher. Teachers said they have been coming in early to try to disinfect their classrooms and are making sure students practice good hand hygiene. Several early elementary classrooms were missing at least half their students on Tuesday.
What can schools do to prevent the spread of flu?
Promote flu vaccination for all students, staff, and families throughout flu season.
Be aware of flu symptoms:
Promote hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or sleeve, and staying home when sick for both students and staff.
Give students and staff tissues to cover coughs and sneezes as well as liquid soap, paper towels, and time to wash their hands.
Routinely clean and disinfect commonly used areas and frequently touched surfaces. Flu can remain on surfaces for up to eight hours.
Follow package instructions when cleaning for contact time and dilution.
Should students with influenza-like illness (ILI) be excluded from school?
Yes, students and staff with ILI should stay home from school and school activities.
ILI is defined as a fever (at least 100°F) and a cough or sore throat.
Students and staff who become ill during the day should be immediately isolated from others and sent home.
Students and staff can return to school 24 hours after their fever is gone without fever-reducing medication, (e.g., Tylenol or Advil). They should also be well enough to participate in school before returning.