Watauga School System Monitoring Flu Outbreaks As Other Systems Are Forced To Close

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UPDATE – Below is a press release from Watauga County Schools on Friday updating the situation.

 WATAUGA – Watauga County Schools is continuing to monitor instances of flu in the district after the North Carolina Department of Human Health and Services reported a statewide spike in the illness earlier this week. Absences due to illness have been reported in pockets across the system but are declining as the week ends.

 Earlier this week, WCS nurses issued information to faculty and staff to help mitigate the spread of illness through preventative measures. Maintenance and custodial staff across the district have increased efforts to disinfect facilities, while the WCS Transportation Department is working to disinfect school buses.

 To help prevent the spread of the flu, please consider taking the following steps:

 • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

• If you are sick with flu-like illness, stay home from work/school.

• While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

• Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.

• Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.

 Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott said that concentrated effort was being made at every school in the district to ensure that all possible measures of prevention were being met for both staff and students.  

For more information, visit flu.nc.gov and see the attached for information on how to identify flu symptoms.

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Feb 14, 2017 – It’s the dreaded time of year for High Country residents, cold and flu season. Flu season, which typically runs October through May, usually peaks in February and school districts across the nation are feeling the impacts.

Neighboring school system Johnson County, Tennessee announced today (Tuesday February 14, 2017) that they will be closed both Thursday and Friday due to illness within the community. Multiple other school systems in Tennessee either closed one or two days last week or are reporting that they are closing this week to combat the outbreak.

Locally, Watauga County Schools are keeping tabs on the outbreak.  “The recent bout of flu that has affected other districts across the state and region is certainly on our radar and something we are watching very closely.” according to Garrett Price, Director of Communication for Watauga County Schools.  “As always, the health and safety of our students, teachers and staff is paramount. Recently, our school nurses shared information about spread and prevention of the virus with our staff members and students to help mitigate the risk of illness.” Price told WataugaOnline.com.

He says that school will only be closed for illness in a very serious incidence of outbreak. According to board policy, if necessary, that decision would be made in conjunction with, and with the guidance of, the local health department and other appropriate personnel. Price said that school officials can not recall a time, dating back to the late 1990s, that Watauga Schools had to close due to the illness.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reminds everyone that left untreated flu can lead to death. 1 new flu death has been reported in the state between January 29 – February 4. Earlier this month officials announced the death of a child in the western part of the state due to flu on January 24. The agency says that 22 total flu deaths have occurred since October 2, 2016. The flu was considered widespread in North Carolina according to a report earlier this month from NCDHHS

Health officials remind the public that the best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year. Seasonal influenza vaccine must be changed each year as the viruses naturally change over time, according to NCDHHS.

Watauga County Schools – Communicable Disease Procedures

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