Schools not in danger of closing due to influenza


By Miles Smith

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention says this year’s flu season is likely to rival that of the 2014-15 flu season, when an estimated 34 million Americans got the flu.
Flu cases have been reported in Lockhart schools, but district officials say the numbers are not close to a point that necessitates closures.
But other Texas schools are feeling the pinch: Last week, three North Texas private schools closed their doors after flu cases and flu-related absences peaked, and a catholic elementary school in Plano followed suit this week. One Dallas-area district closed its doors. And in nearby Pflugerville, Concordia High School has shut down for the week after reportedly one-third of its students called in sick. The campus will remain closed until crews can perform a deep cleaning on Friday.
Lockhart Independent School District said on Tuesday there were a combined 96 cases of confirmed flu and students with flu-like symptoms last week.
“Last week, we had 48 confirmed cases of the flu and another 48 cases of flu-like symptoms,” said Lockhart ISD public information officer Christina Courson. “Campuses are running on average around 14 confirmed or flu-like symptoms per campus. The district is nowhere near needing to shut down any campuses due to flu.”
The district said it had stressed the importance of getting the flu vaccine back in the fall.
“We did have a districtwide flu vaccine drive in November in which students, with parent permission, received free flu shots,” Courson said. “LISD employees also had the opportunity to receive free flu shots at those campus clinics.”
The CDC predicted this year’s vaccine’s effectiveness would be between 32 and 39 percent. According to the organization, 37 pediatric deaths from flu have been reported nationwide since flu season began on Oct. 1.
After meeting with district officials, Courson said there was not a specific threshold for Lockhart ISD to close one of its schools.
“There are a lot of factors that go into such a big decision,” she said. “It’s a pretty complex decision to make.”


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