Flu season keeps Shelton school district on alert

SHELTON — It’s not as bad as it seems.

While there has been a recent uptick of students out sick, school officials said those out with flu-like symptoms are consistent with past years.

School Superintendent Chris Clouet said he remains in regular contact with district Nursing Supervisor Adrianna Collins, especially now during the height of the flu season. Clouet said flu is not the only sickness befalling students, with others suffering from flu-like symptoms and sinus issues.

In a statement on the district website, school officials informed parents that “Shelton Public Schools are closely monitoring the public health situation related to the strain of coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China. No one in Connecticut has been diagnosed with the coronavirus to date.”

So far this season, the state Department of Public Health reports that there have been 32 fatalities — one child — and more than 1,350 hospitalizations because of influenza, and flu virus activity is “widespread across the state.” The flu season generally runs through April.

“The school rooms are cleaned daily, and principals send out memos on the (school) messaging service referencing the district’s health guidelines,” said Clouet on the district’s procedures.

The guidelines, which are on the district’s website, call for parents to keep their child home when sick to better control communicable diseases in school.

“This not only benefits your child but other children and staff in the classroom at school,” state the guidelines. “When a student is absent please let the office know the reason so symptoms can be monitored in the classroom.”

The guidelines state that Shelton public schools follows the CDC recommendations for communicable diseases in schools. Once a communicable disease has been confirmed, a letter to parents or guardians is sent home to the classroom or entire school at the discretion of the administrator.

Any child with a fever above 100.4°F must stay home at least 24 hours after their fever is gone without using fever-reducing medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen, states the guidelines. A student with flu-like symptoms must stay home regardless of whether or not he or she is using antiviral drugs as the CDC recommends.

The state DPH is calling on those who have not already done so to get a flu shot. Getting vaccinated may also protect people around you, including those who are more vulnerable to serious flu illness, like babies and young children, older people, and people with certain chronic health conditions, the DPH said.

People at higher risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes, heart disease or lung disease, and people 65 years and older, states the state DPH.

There are other personal precautions that the general public can do to prevent the spread of flu in addition to getting a flu shot. Covering your cough, washing your hands frequently throughout the day, staying home when sick, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces — can help prevent the spread of flu and other illnesses such as the common cold and other viruses.