AMHERST - While the number of sick students continues to climb, officials with the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board are urging calm.
Attendance figures from Tuesday show a sharp increase in the number of students out of class with illness-related absences. From just a few schools a week ago, there are 14 schools in the Chignecto family of schools with absentee rates higher than 10 per cent.
"They are changing day to day, some days are up and some are lower," board spokesperson Carolyn Pierce said late Tuesday. "We've received a number of calls from concerned parents and we've been urging those with questions to contact their local health authority."
Pierce said there are probably cases of parents keeping their children home as a precaution, but pointed out public health is advising parents to send their children to school if they're healthy. On the flip side, parents should keep them home if they are ill.
There's also no certainty that all the illnesses are H1N1 related, but with the incidence of the virus in the community board superintendent Noel Hurley doesn't doubt that some of the students are home sick because they are exhibiting symptoms.
"Some of the absences in some of our schools have been relatively high for a couple of days," Hurley said. "We don't know if it's the actual flu or parents keeping their children home."
Hurley said schools are continuing to function and there no atmosphere of panic in the board or any of the schools. If there is a positive that's coming out of the situation, Hurley feels it's the partnerships that have developed between the board, public health and other stakeholders.
River Hebert Elementary appears to be among the hardest hit with 42.6 per cent of the school's 115 students reporting as absent on Tuesday morning while 18.5 per cent of the 54 students at Advocate district school were off sick.
Other schools with high percentages included Junction Road Elementary at 31.2 per cent, Springhill High at 24.7 per cent and West End-Memorial in Springhill at 20.3 per cent.
A number of schools were either at or below the 10 per cent threshold that requires schools to report their figures to the board and public health. Among those, West Highlands Elementary was at 11 per cent and River Hebert District High was at 10.1 per cent while Amherst Regional High, E.B. Chandler Junior High, Parrsboro Elementary, Spring Street Academy, Wallace Elementary and Wentworth Elementary are below 10 per cent.
Pierce said the numbers in the Chignecto family are comparable with what's happening in the Nova and Cobequid families while the Celtic family, around Pictou County, is higher.
Cyrus Eaton, Pugwash 17.1
Cumberland North, Brookdale 18.3
Junction Road, Springhill 31.2
Northport Elementary 19.7
Oxford Elementary 15.1
Oxford High 19.5
Parrsboro High 16.2
Pugwash High 14.7
River Hebert High 10.1
River Hebert Elementary 42.6
Springhill High 24.7
West End-Memorial, Springhill 20.3
West Highlands, Amherst 11
Below 10 %
Amherst High, E.B. Chandler Junior High, Spring Street Academy, Parrsboro Elementary, Wallace Elementary and Wentworth Elementary