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Local Schools Deal with Flu

CHAMPAIGN-- When the flu hits, it's the young and elderly who are most at risk of catching the virus. On Wednesday the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that from October to December 150 people were admitted to the ICU with the flu, and 6 had died.

Today we asked local school officials what they're doing to keep the virus from spreading.

The most recent data from the Illinois Department of Public Health shows that cases of influenza-like illnesses are four times above the normal level. But according to the Champaign Unit 4 school district, the number of students missing school because of the illness are actually down.
Stephanie Stuart, Community Relations Coordinator for the district, says, "Actually we've seen our numbers decline slightly. Right before the holiday break we did see an increase in student absences for things like the flu. We're seeing a little bit of a decrease now but it's definitely still something that's on our mind here in the district." She credits a proactive approach for keeping those numbers down.
Both the Champaign district and Urbana School District 116 have posted flu information for parents on their websites, and lead nurse for Champaign Margee sends a letter home with each student who does fall ill.

Stuart said, "Our nurses send letters home with our students who are going home with the flu, just informing parents that the reason they're being sent home and some preventative steps. And to let them know to keep them at home until their fevers have broken for more than 24 hours just so we can minimize the effects on other students."

Those preventative steps include teaching children to not share personal items or food, to wash their hands thoroughly with soap, and to be on the lookout for any signs of the flu.

Says Stuart, "We just ask them to keep their kids at home if they are showing any symptoms so they aren't bringing them to school and spreading them to their peers."