School absences likely attributed to flu

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - While the exact reason for every single absence is unclear tonight. A spike of 112 kids reported absent at Woolridge Elementary, points to flu. That's according to the Chesterfield Health Department.

His office at the county health department monitors the numbers everyday and Dr. William Nelson follows up with several conversations with school leaders.

"All the schools in Virginia are submitting absenteeism rates to the Department of Health as part of the state monitoring system to track the progress and the evolution of influenza outbreak," said Dr. Nelson.

It's through this tracking system, that the county caught wind of Woolridge Elementary.

"This particular school, Woolridge, has a high rate of absenteeism this week and it could be due to many things, but it probably is the influenza at this point. In general, the school district runs 3%-5% absenteeism, as does Woolridge, it's up to 12%-14% this week," he said.

Despite the quick rise, mom Kim Hicks isn't worried.

"If there's something going around, they do notify us. Our elementary school, they have a mass phone system, where they will call and let parents know if there's something going around that we need to be concerned with," she said.

Thomas Delbridge is a bit more cautious of the situation since his 4th grade granddaughter falls in the age bracket.

"I have a granddaughter that has asthma. And I worry about her," said Delbridge.

"The attack rate is very high, all the way from 2-44," Dr. Nelson said.

The health department's statistics change every day. Doctor Nelson says he doesn't have enough staff to upload and update a database for parents. But each school does monitor absences.

"Remember this is the flu. It's the flu just like the other flu. It's the wrong time of year, and it's widespread," said Nelson.

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