Flu-Related Absences Up in NJ Schools [AUDIO]
As the flu outbreak continues to plague the region, schools across New Jersey have seen an increase in absences among students and staff, but it hasn't been as big a problem as in other school years. That's according to a survey by the New Jersey School Boards Association.
Two-thirds of respondents to the survey said that their districts had seen an increase in flu-related absences in the last few weeks, while 15 percent reported no increase and 18 percent weren't sure.
When it came to staff, respondents said there were fewer absences as a result of the flu: 54 percent said there was an increase, 23 percent said there wasn't and 23 percent weren't sure.
"Some schools have had a very hard time with the flu this year and they've seen more students and staff out sick, but it hasn't been quite as bad as the swine flu scare a few years ago," said Mike Yaple, Public Affairs officer with the New Jersey School Boards Association.
An overwhelming majority of respondents admitted that their school district was implementing many measures to prevent the spread of the virus. Only three percent said their districts made school facilities available for flu vaccinations.
Schools Taking Action on Flu
"Whenever there's a health alert about the flu, you see an overwhelming number of schools stepping up their efforts to prevent it from spreading," said Yaple. "Although it may seem like a big scare initially, the end result of taking immediate action may be that the flu is kept from spreading anymore than it could have otherwise. You're seeing schools sanitizing public areas like handrails, they're educating students about hygiene and reminding them to wash their hands, they're making hand sanitizer available throughout the school and they're also telling staff and students to stay home if they're sick."