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Illnesses bump school absenteeism on South Whidbey

Record staff

Colds, fevers and the flu have hit South Whidbey schools recently, increasing the rates of absent students.

Marcia Statz, one of the district’s registered nurses, said the flu missed South Whidbey until Jan. 18.

“We have not had any positive cases of influenza among our students until today,” Statz said in an email that day. “We received report that there has been one positive (lab confirmed) case at South Whidbey Elementary School.”

In the ensuing days, South Whidbey Elementary School endured the highest rate of absent students. About 13 percent of the school’s 520 students were out sick the week of Jan. 18.

Sore throats, headaches, low-grade fevers and coughing were the leading reasons students were either sent or stayed home.

Langley Middle School averaged about eight percent absenteeism since returning from the district’s winter break Jan. 7. A stomach illness, marked by stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and body aches, rolled through the student population recently.

The high school’s absenteeism has been between eight and 10 percent, mainly because of sore throats and headaches.

Any cases of the flu are reported by the school nurse to the Island County Health Department.

Across the state, 17 influenza-related deaths were reported as of Jan. 23.

South Whidbey residents made a run on flu immunization in early January at Island Drug. Chris Rogge, the pharmacist at the Clinton location, said he was out of flu shots two weeks ago, but recently saw the demand plummet and had not administered a vaccination Monday.

“Usually, most people come in October,” Rogge said.

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