As the nation faces one of the most widespread flu seasons in years, Beaufort County School District is cautioning parents and children to stay on top of their health.
Over the past three weeks, the school district has seen more than triple the number of students with confirmed cases of the flu than all of last year’s flu season.
Since students returned to school on Jan. 8, 174 students were confirmed with cases of the flu. During the 2016-2017 season, a total of 53 cases were confirmed across the district.
“We are in the peak season for the flu,” Denise Unruh, nursing coordinator for the school district, said. “The flu can stand for another six weeks, traditionally. Hopefully, we’re seeing the bulk of it hitting hard now. Hopefully, we’ll be able to see it calm down soon.”
During the third week of January, 273 flu cases were confirmed in Beaufort County, which is nearly 50 more confirmed cases than the week before.
Schools in which 10 percent of students have been confirmed with the flu must report their numbers to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Beaufort Academy decided to close its preschool and lower school this week after an unprecedented number of students came down with the flu.
According to Unruh, none of the district’s schools have reached or are near reaching the 10 percent level.
Still, Unruh is urging parents that if their child has not been vaccinated yet, they should get them vaccinated as soon as possible.
The district is asking parents to keep their children at home if they have a temperature greater than 100 degrees or if they experience any other symptoms of the flu, including a headache, sore throat, cough, vomiting or diarrhea.
While the district is dealing with a lot of flu cases, students also are coming down with the stomach bug.
Unruh said parents should keep their children at home until the symptoms subside.
“If they have symptoms and a fever that’s running high, go see a physician,” she said.
In order to combat the illnesses circulating in the school district, custodians are wiping down desks, doorknobs, handrails and everything in between with hospital-grade disinfectant spray, according to Jim Foster, spokesperson for the district.
In order to avoid the flu, DHEC is recommending that individuals:
▪ Avoid contact with sick people
▪ Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
▪ Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that might be contaminated with germs
▪ Wash your hands often with soap and water
“Hand wash, hand wash, hand wash, it’s the number one preventative,” Unruh said. “If your child is well and doesn’t have any symptoms, send them to school. We’re doing our best to get anyone that is sick out the door and back home.”
For more information about this year’s Lowcountry flu season and what you need to know about it, click here.