School battles flu, health officials give tips to stay healthy

Local News

IRONTON, Ohio (WOWK) – The mercury may be all over the thermostat this year, but it doesn’t mean the winter flu season has been affected. We’re often told by health officials the young and old are most at risk of catching the flu, but one St. Lawrence Elementary finds itself grappling with a lot of flu-related absences.

“This year seems a little earlier than most years,” said Ironton Catholic Schools Principal Chris Monte about the flu season.

While Christmas break is officially over for all area schools, classrooms are not yet filled to capacity. In one grade at St. Lawrence Elementary, 13 of the 18 students are absent, either sick with the flu or feeling under the weather.

“It’s the season for the flu, it doesn’t take long for it to spread,” said Monte. “We’re a smaller school so it’s a little more noticeable if we have a lot of kids out sick.”

The Ohio Department of Health says there have been 806 reported cases of the flu just in the first week of the decade.

Lawrence County Health Department officials say the flu hasn’t even hit its peak season. They expect it to hit in March.

“We talk about handwashing, we’ve encouraged kids to bring bottled water instead of using water fountains, and the building is cleaned thoroughly every day,” added Monte.

So until the little ones are feeling better, health officials and Monte are asking parents to please keep their kids home.

Monte says parents need to remember many students participate in extracurricular activities, making it easier to pass germs along to others, even if they’re not in school. Health officials also want to remind parents to not let their kids share utensils or drink after one another to avoid the spreading of illness.

Flu shots are still available at the Lawrence County Health Department; no appointment is necessary and walk-ins are welcome.

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