Flu continues to spread, closes down schools

WAVE County schools close as flu continues to spread

HANOVER, IN (WAVE) – The flu is continuing to spread across WAVE country. The CDC is reporting that the flu is now officially designated as moderate in Indiana and widespread in Kentucky.

With more people getting sick, it’s causing some schools to close in southern Indiana and WAVE country.

Southwestern Elementary School in Hanover sits quiet. The parking lot and its hall are empty Friday. Class was cancelled because so many of their students were fighting the flu.

"Tuesday of this week, we started seeing sending kids home, kids not coming and it got worse as the week went on," said Jeff Bates, Southwestern Jefferson County Schools Interim Superintendent.

And the flu continued to spread. On Thursday, more than one-fifth of the students were out sick.

"At that time, we were at about 21 percent and I think it got worse as the day went on," Bates said. The decision was made through the district, the state department of education and the health department.

"There are no kids in the classrooms on Friday but the smell of cleaning products hangs heavy in the air. Teachers spend the day wiping, sanitizing and bleaching to get rid of germs in an effort to make sure everything that everything will be ready for kids when they come back Monday.

Doctors say that break from class is good, helping to contain the flu that's becoming more widespread.

"We're seeing a lot more cases this week than last week. Probably at least double what I saw last week," said Dr. Jill Howell-Berg, Norton Children's Medical Associates Clarksville pediatrician.

Dr. Howell-Berg said the flu had a late start this season but is picking up steam over the past few days and not just in Indiana. In Kentucky, Hart, Powell, Washington and Montgomery all called off class for students battling the flu. http://www.wave3.com/2019/01/17/two-kentucky-school-districts-cancel-friday-classes-due-flu-outbreak/

"Usually we start seeing flu in November and I had a few sporadic cases but this month is really when it's picking up. So it's coming on fast," Howell-Berg said.

The best thing you can do to prevent flu is to get the flu shot and wash your hands well. It seems simple but Howell-Berg said the majority of flu-related deaths are those who aren’t vaccinated for it, it can and does save lives.

Bates said elementary school students will be back to class for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday as part of a snow-day makeup, but said they'll keep a close eye on sick students here and at the middle and high school. They're hopeful Friday's closure will keep sick kids at home and classes going the rest of the school year.

"We want to keep school open whenever we can," Bates said.

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