Suburban Middle School Sees Spikes In Absentees Due To Flu

Bernie Tafoya
February 27, 2019 - 1:22 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A northwest suburban middle school has seen dozens of students calling in sick this week with suspected flu. 

According to School District 25 spokesman Adam Harris, 158 students called in sick on Tuesday from South Middle School in Arlington Heights. In addition, he said, 23 more students were sent home.  

On Wednesday, Harris said, 185 students were out sick of the 884 students enrolled in the school. That's 21 percent of the student population. 

Letters and emails were sent to parents and the school is promoting healthy habits at school by "encouraging students to wash hands, use hand sanitizer and our custodial team is treating some areas of the building more frequently to help prevent the spread of germs."

Harris said that, in the past week, parents of 31 students have reported their children have had Influenza A. 

He said the school has reminded parents that they should keep their children home if their kids are sick. 

Below is the email with an attached letter that was sent home to families of South Middle School on Tuesday.

Dear South Families, 

We have sent this letter (link) home at periodic times each school year and are resending now, because we have had a higher number of student absences yesterday and today, with about 15% of our students home with illness. Additionally, we sent 23 students home today with flu-like symptoms. 

Overall recorded absence reasons and symptoms have varied. However, as of today we have had 13 families reach out to let us know of verified Influenza A diagnoses. We will continue to track reported cases and consult the Cook County Health Department. Health Department guidelines include good and frequent hand washing with soap and water and keeping your children home when they are ill. To help control the spread of viruses at home, cleaning of high touch or contaminated surfaces with disinfectant cleaners is recommended. (All things reinforced in the letter we are sending home as well.)

At school, we are promoting healthy habits, encouraging students to wash hands and use the hand sanitizer available in most classrooms. Our custodial team is treating some areas of the building more frequently to help prevent the spread of germs. Finally, several of our teachers had students using their school supplies wipes to address personal items and surfaces around them in the classroom/lockers. 

We want to remind families we have an online absence form in addition to our absence phone line. 

We are wishing all those home sick a speedy recovery and appreciate your ongoing communication and support. We are very ready to say "good-bye" to February and "hello" to the month of March! 


The South Administration