Flu hits hard


Lauren Becker

The nurse sent home a collective 23 students on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this past week. As a consequence, a false rumor has spread that school will close.

Junior Bella Brooke trudges down to the nurse’s office. Her ears are clogged and her head is spinning. The nurse swipes the thermometer across her forehead – it reads 101 degrees.

Brooke is not the only student who visited the nurse’s office last week. School nurse Michelle Webster sent home four students on Monday, Feb. 13, five students on Tuesday, Feb. 14, and 14 students on Wednesday, Feb. 15. According to Webster, not all students were sent home because of the flu specifically but also because of the common cold or stomach ailments.

“[Flu symptoms include a] runny nose, sore throat, coughing, headache and or body aches, [and] fever. In order to be considered the flu, a fever must be present with coughing and or sore throat. The other symptoms vary from person to person,” Webster said.

As a result of the number of students sick, rumors spread that the school would be closed for a day. Vice Principal for Student Affairs and Technology Brian Powell sent an email to students Friday afternoon addressing the rumor. “We do not have any policy in our handbook about closing if a certain percentage of students call out sick. Schools that decide to close because of sickness often decide to do so when their teachers get sick in high numbers,” he said.

Brooke disagrees with the school’s decision to not close. “I think we should have off because sick kids are coming to school anyway,” she said.

Although JC will not be closing, Webster notified the Health Department about the large number of absences.

“There is a threshold that it is recommended to notify the Health Department, I go by 10 percent absence. Here at JC, we have reached the 10 percent mark, but that is deceptively high. That number includes students who are out on college visits and who may be out for other situations like injuries,” Webster said.  

Webster believes that the rise in flu cases can be attributed to many factors. “Because the past few years have been rather light for flu cases, people are forgetting to get the flu shot in the fall,” she said. “Also, the lack of snow days this year has kept more people in close contact in the schools. Snow days allow for social distancing, so those who may have the flu virus are usually home and not in a group setting.”

If you feel like you are getting sick, Webster recommends students stay home, get some rest, and drink a lot of fluids. “Keep in mind that those with the flu are contagious for a day or two before they even have symptoms, so it is very hard to contain. Students can help by staying home as soon as the symptoms appear, and do not return until you are completely well,” she said.

For those who are trying to remain healthy, Webster recommends frequent hand-washing and not sharing utensils, pens, pencils, cell phones, and laptops.

Lauren Becker is a News Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.