Flu Taking Over the Classroom at Local Schools

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

It's a vicious virus that now has a hold on Brazos County.

Cold and Flu complaints are up all across the area, with more than a 150 confirmed cases in just the last ten days.

Local doctors say those numbers are up substantially from the beginning of the year. Battling the bug is proving difficult for local schools, where the virus is taking over the classroom.

Fifth grade science teacher Cindi Tolmsoff is brushing up on vocabulary with her students.

"Alright lets see....what's our keyword," Tolmsoff asks the class.

Lately that keyword hasn't had much to do with science, but a whole lot to do with...

"Flu, you know kids getting sick to their stomachs," Tolmsoff said. "I've been writing out a lot of these pink passes (nurse passes) here lately."

Dozens of desks have remained unoccupied over the last week, as student after student has traded in their seat in the classroom for one in the nurse's office.

"He started vomiting, can you come pick him up," School Nurse Carolyn Brown asks a parent on the phone.

"They're usually coming in with bad headaches, sore throats, body aches, just feeling very tired," Brown said.

Brown says her office has been extra busy the past few weeks.

Instead of the normal 20 to 25 students visiting her office, she's seeing more than double that.

"Last week I was seeing 50 to 60, not sending them all home of course, but seeing an increase in activity," Brown said.

Navarro Elementary isn't the only one bitten by the flu bug. Other Bryan schools have also taken a hit.

Monday morning, 60 kids were absent at Bonham Elementary, and last week at Mitchell Elementary 80 to 120 kids were absent each day.

"I think there's been a huge increase in it, we've just seen a lot," Tolmsoff said.

But it's something teachers like Cindi Tolmsoff have come prepared for-- she has tissues, Lysol, and disinfectant wipes now always on hand.

"Especially with this type of illness because we're not seeing kids out just one day, we're seeing kids absent three, four, maybe even possibly a week of school," Tolmsoff said.

School officials say if you're child has a fever, nausea or is vomiting they need to stay home for at least 24 hours after the symptoms disappear.

As for College Station schools, they say district wide last week they had more than 1500 absences out of the 9800 students they have enrolled.

Signs and symptoms of the flu can include:

-fever over 101
-chills and sweats
-muscle aches
-diarrhea and vomiting in kids

Experts say to prevent the flu from coming into your home, wash your hands, eat right, exercise, and don't forget to get the flu shot.

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