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Madison City Schools and This Flu Season

Michael Kelly

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After the recent death of a Huntsville middle schooler, it is only natural that local residents would begin to question the severity of this year’s flu season. To accurately get a grasp of the students’ stance on the matter, I surveyed three different classes at Bob Jones. In the survey, participants answered questions pertaining to the flu and how it has affected both themselves and the community. When asked if they knew of anyone diagnosed with the flu this winter season, over 80% of people answered yes. From those who said yes, 60% further added that those they knew were Madison City students. In addition to these questions, survey participants were also asked if they felt safe from catching the flu at school. Here are some of the responses:

“I don’t really feel safe. A ton of my friends have the flu and I think I have a high chance of getting it. ”

“I do; I’ve already had the flu.”

“No, I feel it is an epidemic.”

“I don’t really feel safe because of the constant contact with people every day but that is unavoidable.”

And when asked what they would suggest schools do to combat it,

“What can they do?”

“Close school for a week.”

“I honestly couldn’t tell you.”

“If a certain amount of people are out of school with the flu, we should shut down.”

It seems no one knows a tried-and-true method to fully eradicate the flu, but there is a common pattern in the responses. Among the responses of “I don’t know” and “disinfect everything,” there are a large number of suggestions recommending temporarily shutting down schools. This option is not foreign in other local school systems, as many schools are beginning to shut down themselves.

Mrs. Lambert, the principal of Bob Jones, voiced her thoughts on the matter: We have been urging students to wash their hands frequently and not to share water bottles or sodas. We have urged students to cover their sneezes and coughs. We have sent emails to parents from our district’s nurse asking our Madison families to keep students at home for 24 hours after a fever is present and not to send a sick child to school. We are asking everyone to use common sense and to be cautious. Our custodial team is cleaning taking extra precautions with door handles, tables, chairs and in restrooms. Our school nurse is keeping track of the students that visit the clinic and the condition of each student. Parents are notified when students are sick and pick them up. Constant cleaning of our school clinic is being done.”

By the looks of it, it seems Bob Jones has already employed various fighting tactics to reduce the flu threat on campus grounds. When asked if the flu could put Madison City Schools in a temporary hiatus, Lambert responded, “I am keeping Mr. Parker informed of our student and teacher absences as related to illnesses. Just as I am monitoring the status of Bob Jones, Mr. Parker is monitoring the condition of all schools in Madison City. All of the principals in Madison City are keeping Mr. Parker informed of the status of their schools.”

With all information considered, it seems a Madison City School’s shutdown may not be completely off the table, possibly being a last defense if attendance drops at the school system level. Mr. Parker shared in an email: “Some of you have asked about closing. We aren’t at that point yet. The Health Dept suggests closing if 20% of students are absent. Some schools were high yesterday, but we were at 7% overall.”

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Madison City Schools and This Flu Season