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Riverside Christian School sees flu surge this week

East Grand Forks schools are keeping up extra cleaning protocols they have followed since August to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu, officials reported today.

East Grand Forks schools are keeping up extra cleaning protocols they have followed since August to prevent the spread of H1N1 flu, officials reported today.

Administrative assistant Rachel Triance said Riverside Christian School had its highest student absences of the year Monday and Tuesday, when about 13 percent of the 121 students were gone with influenza-like illness.

More students were absent with other illnesses, and Triance said school officials have urged parents to keep their children home if they show any possible symptoms of influenza.

The school didn't have class Wednesday through today for teacher conventions, which let the cleaning contractor do a more thorough job in the building this week to eliminate as many germs as possible.

The time off also gave students a break from being in close contact with each other, which could help prevent more illnesses from happening. "We're hoping that because the kids have been out for three days, things will calm down a little bit with the flu," she said.


Extra steps

Still, Triance said Riverside hasn't had to take as drastic of steps as the Warren-Alvarado-Oslo district, which cancelled class Wednesday after nearly half of its high school students were home sick with the flu.

The school did some extra sanitizing measures this week, but she said it was mostly standard cleaning practices. "There was extra cleaning going on but it wasn't like we had a company come in and fumigate the place," she said.

Workers clean the classrooms each day once school is out, and teachers have been wiping down desks and using sanitizing sprays all year as an extra step.

But the school is focusing more on cleanliness than regular years because of flu concerns. Students use hand sanitizer before eating lunch, teachers encourage frequent hand washing and workers wipe down door knobs, keyboards and other commonly-touched items.

"We're taking the same precautions and stuff as other schools," Triance said.

Other schools

Schools across the state didn't have class Thursday and today for the Education Minnesota Conference held each October, which gave some of the hardest-hit districts a chance to sanitize and sometimes fumigate buildings.


The state Health Department said 215 schools reported outbreaks of flu-like illnesses the first full week of October, 90 more than the previous week.

Sacred Heart Catholic School had its teachers do a little more cleaning within their classrooms this week, Principal David Andrys said. But the school has been "very good" this year and hasn't had many flu-related absences, he said.

The city's four public schools weren't doing any additional cleaning beyond what they usually do, a district receptionist said.

Johnson covers K-12 education and can be reached at (701) 780-1105; (800) 477-6572, ext. 105; or send e-mail to rjohnson@gfherald.com .

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