Illness hitting schools hard

Darrell Cole
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Several county schools have high number of students off sick

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.

Advocate 18.5

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

Organizations: Central Regional School Board, Street Academy

Geographic location: Chignecto, AMHERST, West End Springhill Oxford Parrsboro River Hebert Pictou County Cumberland North

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Recent comments

  • worried
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    As a parent I have kept my child home due to the fact there is a person at home who is high risk!how many students are around others who are sick and then bring the germs to school and pass it along.time to wake up and shut the schools down for a PROPER cleaning so our children are protected a bit better!

  • pissed off
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    Dear Dawn I think your comment about how you love your child and want to keep him healthy is great, but how dare you make a statement about like the rest of us parents. For your information we all love and want our kids to be healthy but keeping him or her home from school is only harming their education. You really need to get a life instead of making judgement on other families decision.

  • Joe
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    this is no time for calm its time for the panic stricken to feed the panic monster and for all of us to freak out...

  • Interesting
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    I find it very interesting that some people are pulling their kids of of school just incase. Yet we complain in the winter when there are storm days and the kids stay home. We complain that they should be going to school. There is a much better chance of a student dying in a car or bus accident, on a slippery road then dying of swine flu.

  • Jason
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    quotes from:

    Alan Cassels, drug policy researcher

    Quote the mortality rate from H1N1 flu is actually much smaller than seasonal flu ...

    Is H1N1 worth worrying about?

    Probably not. If we can learn from the experience in the southern hemisphere, which just had its main flu season, mortality from the H1N1 virus is relatively low

    I think people need to get a grip. This H1N1 baloney will soon blow over but I'm afraid of next year. Fear is big business whether its warranted or not.

    Bottom line: get a grip

  • Statsprof
    February 24, 2010 - 23:46

    It would seem you have played a simple game of work the numbers. The schools listed in this category have low student body numbers. I mean for instance when i went to ARHS there was on average 820-850 students there. So 50%=410 25%=205 and 13%=100. So when you post these numbers of small schools with high % it simply means they have fewer students and when one is out the number is high. I mean if a school had 10 students and 2 kids were gone theres a 20% absence? Clearly this is an article that was written as filler about this stupid seasonal flu everyone is getting so worked up about.

    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    There does seem to be an increased panic. Then why are our kids having to wait to get immunized. I blame the federal government for not sending the required amounts for each person to have their shots. Why do we have a shortfall? We will all have our H1N1 by Christmas - after the peak of the flu season.

  • Paige
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    The thing I find funny (joking) is that they are not giving these kids the shot first! We hear more reports of this age group getting sick more then younger children yet they are not listed as high risk! Another thing is that my daughter is at risk and they may still turn us away because of her age group!
    I was told to have a letter stating what was wrong with her yet her main dr. isn't providing those, and none of the others can promise that they can either.So who do you blame.the dr,the people who can turn you away or the government?

  • A
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I currently have one child home who is sick,..I dont know what she has because unless she is hospitalized- there is no testing, seems to me she has a bad cold, so I am keeping her out because she is coughing- a sign of H1N1 but also a sign of tonnes of other things,..I have also removed my younger child temporarily from preschool as I have observed other children there who have coughs etc- I dont feel I am being paranoid- I am being careful,...until my children are vaccinated and healthy I think its only fair to other children not to send your sick child to school,....its hard if you have to work and your boss isnt sympathetic and/or you need the money...this certainly is a time when businesses are going to have to work with very few employees at times and allow for sick people to have the time they need to recover, or be there for their children.

  • Dawn
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I think that all of the schools should be shut down until everyone gets the proper vaccinations. I pulled my son, Jayden out until he gets vaccinated. Another issue is that he doesn't fall in this week's category and lord knows when he will be in a category that he can get the vaccination. This is rediculous and proper planning should have been taken forth before anyone was administered the vaccine. My son will not return to school until something is done and I hope people are behind me because unlike some parents, I love my child and want to keep him healthy.

  • Jennifer
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Wow Dawn, that's harsh! Guess you will think next time before posting something like that with your name infront of it eh? br br We all love our children, even those of us who have kept them in school. If you feel someone is abusing their child by sending them to school, maybe you should lodge a complaint with Family and Children's Services :p

  • concerned parent
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I would like to know why our School Board didn`t give our children the vaccine within the schools? Our neighboring province (N.B.) made the decision to do this and I believe it should have been done here as well. This would have helped with line ups as well as parents not having to deal with behavioral issues because of kids being bored waiting in a line up for hours.

  • Dirk
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Oh please you paranoid parents! A very very small percentage of people are are dying from H1N1. It is just a bad flu. If the kid is not sick, then why should they be home? All you are doing is putting more burden on the teachers who are trying to teach the students at the same level. By pulling your unsick kid out of school, you are making it harder for the curriculum to be delivered in a timely fashion. Get off the Internet and turn off the TV and give your kid a shove out of the door to school. All you are teaching the kid is to be lazy.

  • Brad
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    To POed parent, right on,glad someone said it, keeping a child away from their education is not good, and here's another news flash, we all love our children but how would keeping them home really help them?