Burr: Student illness rate at Shelton school peaked on Monday

School Supt. Freeman Burr
School Supt. Freeman Burr

The number of sick children at Shelton’s Elizabeth Shelton School appears to have peaked on Monday when about 50 youngsters were out, according to School Supt. Freeman Burr.

“Monday was the high point,” Burr said.

That number dropped to about 35 on Tuesday, Burr said. Last Friday, about 40 children stayed home due to illness.

“There’s been a higher-than-normal rate for the last eight days — averaging about 30 kids,” the superintendent said late Tuesday.

Elizabeth Shelton has about 450 students, and Burr said any absenteeism rate above 4% catches the attention of school administrators. At Elizabeth Shelton, the rate had gone up to about 7%.

Stomach flu, strep and pink eye

Children at Elizabeth Shelton School have been sick with different problems — the stomach flu, strep throat, and pink eye, Burr said.

Because so many children have been sick, Burr said there’s been “pretty heavy exposure” among the student population.

Information from the principal and the school nurse about the situation was distributed to parents last week, he said.

“A communication was sent to parents last week,” Burr said, which explained the situation and included suggested steps that families could take to try to keep youngsters from getting ill (frequent hand washing, etc.).

Sanitizing the facility

At the school, steps have been taken to sanitize the educational facility “to try to combat the problem.”

Burr said while at least one parent has suggested bleach should be used in that process, the city is following the state’s environmental guidelines. “We do ‘green’ cleaning, but we increase the concentration,” he said.

The extra cleaning at Elizabeth Shelton has been taking place for a few days.

Only school with issues

It appears the outbreak has been limited to Elizabeth Shelton, and there’s not a problem at any of the city’s other four elementary schools.

“I’m not surprised by that,” Burr said. “This is how it often happens.”

Burr said the current sickness problem is not as bad as the situation with the H1N1 flu a few years ago, when absenteeism rates went as high as 15% to 22% at some Shelton schools.