Leon County Schools to remain open amid flu epidemic

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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 1, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Leon County School District is set to do extra cleaning over the weekend because of the flu.

District spokesperson Chris Petley says they've noticed hundreds more students missing classes compared to this time last year.

While the district does not track the reasons for absences, the spokesperson says they do assume, by looking at relationships in the community, a lot of absences are from being sick.

"The flu's been crazy" said Buffy Cefola.

Cefola's daughter just had a baby last week. Two days later, the daughter's two-year-old was diagnosed with the flu.

"Needless to say, we've tried to keep them apart. Everybody's been on Tamiflu. When we were in the pediatrician's office, there had been at least 75 kids in that day. Of which, half were diagnosed with the flu and strep throat," she said.

Cefola's two high school age daughters have been able to dodge the bug so far. But, she says the virus is going around their school.

"There have been so many students that have been out with the flu," said Cefola.

Petley says about 800 more students have been absent compared to this time last year.

"My daughter, she got the flu. She missed school for about three days. If a kid's got the flu, they should not go to school and spread it to other kids," said Terry Mock, a Tallahassee resident.

Petley says the district consulted with the Leon County Health Department and came up with a three-step process:

  • Parents keep students home if they're sick or experiencing flu symptoms.
  • The district will disinfect school campuses, school buses, and district offices.
  • Educate students on flu prevention, such as washing hands regularly.

    Petley says this all goes for staff, too.

    "We're just like our parents. We have children that are ill, and I know that sometimes it means missing work. But, we understand that this is a little bit of a different situation this season, and we're going to do our best to get through it," Petley said.

    Petley says they're still seeing a 91 percent attendance rate across the district, so they feel comfortable keeping schools open.

    However, they are monitoring how often they're having to use substitute teachers and bus drivers. If it gets to the point where schools can't operate, Petley says that'll be a determining factor to decide to close.

    By: Erika Fernandez | WCTV Eyewitness News
    February 1, 2018

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Leon County Schools says 800 more students are recorded absent right now compared to this time last year.

    Although attendance rates show a big chunk of students missing class, LCS said there is still 91 percent of kids at school every single day.

    However, it's not just the students the administration is looking at. They're also keeping a close eye on the staff, including teachers and bus drivers.

    Leon County Spokesman Chris Petley says if there's enough faculty healthy enough to have kids in the classrooms, there's more than enough reason to have school every day.

    Just like kids, adults get sick, too, but it hasn't taken a huge toll on staffing. The district is determined to make sure it won't.

    "Our schools are reacting as best they can, doubling up if they have to. I know they're putting as many subs and sometimes principals down there to make sure that they watch the classrooms but I think that's what they will continue to watch," Petley said.

    LCS is also advising kids and adults to stay home if they're not feeling well, and they're educating everyone on how to stay healthy during flu season.

    Petley said Superintendent Rocky Hanna approved overtime for custodians to work this weekend. They will clean and sanitize the buses and campuses to make sure no one gets this nasty case of the flu.

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