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Oxford School District working to prevent the flu with social media post

With the flu virus running rampant through the state, Oxford School District decided to release a public service announcement aimed at preventing cases among students.

The PSA, titled “Too Sick for School,” included an explanation of the school’s attendance policies and procedures for students who are returning to school after having the flu or other illnesses.

Within three days of returning to school, the student must present a doctor’s note in order to have his or her absence medically excused. The student can also bring in a note from a parent or guardian and have their absence marked excused, but not medically excused. If no note is turned in, the absence will be marked unexcused.

According to OHS principal Bradley Roberson, the notice is more of a precautionary measure.

“Our average daily attendance has been down slightly recently; however, I am not sure it is all due to the flu,” Roberson said. “The post was more for precautionary measures than anything.  We want to educate our parents so that it doesn’t become an epidemic at OHS or any OSD school.”

Also included in the announcement is a chart that details when parents should keep their children home, and when it is okay for them to return to school following an illness.

For example, if a student has had a fever below 100.4 degrees for 24 hours, they are safe to return to school. However, if the child’s fever is above 100.4 degrees, they are considered contagious and should stay home.

OHS school nurse Meg Hayden says there are a few simple ways to prevent the flu, in addition to following the guidelines in the PSA.

“The PSA information is the most important when trying to minimize the spread of illness,” she said. “In general, good hand washing and covering your mouth and nose with your arm when you sneeze or cough helps prevent the flu.”

Lafayette County School District seems to have similar issues with flu-related absences. According to Superintendent Dr. Adam Pugh, the district is doing all they can to prevent the flu, but they’re “not as successful” as they would like.

“It’s really hurt our attendance this year,” Pugh said. “Our attendance rate for the past few days has been around 90 percent, so 10 percent of our students are out due to illness.”

According to the CDC, Mississippi had an influenza-like illness rate of 6.1 percent this season, well above the national average of 2.3 percent.

Mississippi is one of the three states to have experienced high activity this year, with Louisiana and South Carolina also showing high numbers.

According to the state department of health, school-aged children are the biggest population affected by the virus. As of Feb. 3, the highest percentage of flu cases in the state were among those who are ages 5 to 24. The age group with the lowest percentage of confirmed flu cases goes to those who are 65 or older.

Still, Hayden adds that while there has been a marked increase in illness-related absences, not all of them are due to the flu.

“It is difficult for me to know the number of flu cases because the parents don’t often report them to me,” she said. “I have seen an increase in the number of fevers for sure, but of course those aren’t always the flu. There has been a lot of flu, strep, and other viruses in general.”