Highland School Board Holds Emergency Meeting
In an emergency meeting of the Highland County School Board held Wednesday, March 4th at 4:00 pm in the school cafeteria, the Board and administration reviewed the current flu-inspired absences and possible actions. The meeting was attended by a number of faculty and parents, who’s opinions were factored into the final decision.
On Monday, and Tuesday, the high school reported 11 absences, with 5 showing flu-like symptoms, which rose to 18 out and 9 with flu-like symptoms on Wednesday. One of those cases was confirmed as flu. The elementary school has been hit much harder – Monday’s numbers were 26 absent, with 15 showing flu-like symptoms, which rose to 36 and 25 Tuesday, and 38 and 27 Wednesday. There are 19 confirmed cases of the flu in the elementary school. To this point, staff of both schools has been minimally affected.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott noted the steps the system is taking, including heightened cleaning and disinfecting, reminders and instructions to students on hand washing, and an all call asking parents to keep children home until they are 24 hours fever free, without medication. The administration recommended against closing schools.
The Board weighed the various options, including school closure, or closure just of pre-school and kindergarten, the most highly affected classes. Other factors entering into their decision were the incubation time of the virus, and the fact that even if schools were closed immediately, it may not help the absenteeism when they were re-opened, due to another wave of infection occurring.
Ultimately, the Board decided to leave schools open while continuing to monitor the numbers and see if additional actions were necessary. The system will turn off the water fountains Thursday morning, to remove those as a potential source of spread, and will provide water for the students. An all call will go out Friday, urging parents to be more cautious about sending students to school with symptoms, and letting them know the school will be stricter about sending ill students home.