Students staying well — so far

Friday, February 1, 2019
Students at Southside Elementary file toward a waiting school bus.
T-G Photo by Dawn Hankins

Bedford County students must be taking their vitamins and washing their hands. Unlike several neighboring county school systems — closed due to “illness” — classes pressed on locally this week.

“We haven’t seen the sickness like the other systems,” said Don Embry, Bedford County School superintendent. “Our attendance has been running normal overall.”

The local school system took a snow day this week due to predicted snow, below freezing temperatures and wind chills. Bedford County had eight snow days built into the yearly calendar.

Several systems close

Several middle Tennessee school systems did close this as a precaution to disinfect their hallways. Counties listing as closed are Wilson, Stewart, Perry, Giles, Lincoln, and Macon.

The best prevention advice given by the center is to get the flu shot. Anyone over the age of 6 months is eligible. This is mid-season, however, and exposure to the flu is already possible for many parts of the country.

The Centers For Disease Control reports a slight elevation in flu cases from October to January — between 9 to 11 million. Over 100,000 cases have been hospitalized.

School systems generally have nurses on staff to aid students suffering from illness. Bedford County nurses have reported noting out of the ordinary since returning to classes on Wednesday.

“My nurses have not reported an increase in illness,” said Sara Crabtree, Bedford County coordinator of school health.

It is that time of year when shoppers load their carts with disinfectants and hand sanitizers. The CDC says flu viruses are relatively fragile, so standard practices, such as cleaning with soap and water, can help remove and kill them.

Keep going

Each day, about 55 million students and 7 million staff attend the more than 130,000 public and private schools in the United States. That doesn’t mean, however, that all activity has to cease during a flu outbreak.

The CDC also reports that studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for only 2 to 8 hours after being deposited on a surface. Therefore, special sanitizing processes beyond routine cleaning, including closing schools to clean every surface in the building, are not necessary or recommended to slow the spread of flu, even during a flu outbreak.

The CDC reveals that there are three things to remember to stop flu germs — vaccinate, clean on a daily basis frequented areas such as bathrooms and take antiviral drugs as prescribed by a doctor. Some schools may elect to include cleaning and disinfecting practices in their standard procedures to address germs that are not removed or killed by soap and water alone, the CDC reports.