Central High School experiences surge in absences
Grand Forks Central High School has seen a surge in absences this week, Principal Buck Kasowski said. About 125 to 150 students were absent Wednesday -- nearly 12.5 percent to 15 percent of the 1,003 students who attend Central, according to enro...
Grand Forks Central High School has seen a surge in absences this week, Principal Buck Kasowski said.
About 125 to 150 students were absent Wednesday -- nearly 12.5 percent to 15 percent of the 1,003 students who attend Central, according to enrollment reports from August.
Of those absent, 61 reported flu-like symptoms, he said. That information comes from parents who call in to tell officials their children will not be attending school, and they are now asked for symptoms of the illnesses.
Kasowski pointed out not everyone has flu-like symptoms. "Some are home just because they have a headache," he said.
A growing surge
Still, the increase has been dramatic this week, he said. "We saw quite a few Monday, and on Tuesday, we had a few more, and then today, a few more than that," he said. "This week has been the beginning of a pretty good peak for us -- we hope a peak."
Kasowski said there hasn't been an increase in absences for teachers and staff members, and officials haven't noticed any trends in the illnesses -- there are no specific classes, grade levels or teams that have higher rates of flu-like symptoms, and the absences are spread fairly evenly throughout the school.
Ill students are allowed to do their class work at home, and teachers are staying flexible to allow the students to catch up with work they missed. He said that's no different than the policy for any other year.
But this year is unique, especially because the flu season has hit much earlier than normal and concern about the H1N1 strain's possible impact in schools is widespread.
"We have not had a week that I can remember in the past like we've had this week, as far as absences," Kasowski said.
For now, he said the most important thing is for parents to keep their children home if they show flu-like symptoms and that parents have handled the situation well so far.
Things would have to get "a whole lot worse" for officials to close the school down, Kasowski said. "We're taking one day at a time, and we're hoping that things start to level off."
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