Many in our community are sick with a variety of seasonal illnesses. From the dreaded flu to respiratory illness to stomach bugs, any number of viruses and bacteria are at work.

Schools are struggling to help stop the spread of flu and colds. Teachers are making sure kids are washing their hands, and school staff are wiping down surfaces where germs might be living. 

Monday, Cumberland County schools had 90.5% of students in attendance — 7,238 students. The Phoenix School had the greater percentage of students out — 22% with 19 absent. At the elementary school level, Brown Elementary had 93% present and 40 students absent; Crab Orchard  had 94% present and 27 students absent; Homestead Elementary reported 92% present with 60 students absent; North Cumberland reported 90% attendance and 61 students absent; Pleasant Hill reported 90% present with 62 students absent; and South Cumberland Elementary reported 95% attendance with 31 students absent. 

Elementary schools falling below 90% attendance were Martin Elementary with 89% attendance and 80 students absent; Pine View with 88% attendance and 19 students absent; and Stone Elementary at 88% with 84 students absent. 

Both high schools reported 89% attendance with Cumberland County High School reporting 103 students absent and 98 students absent from Stone Memorial High School. 

Over the weekend, many on social media said children were being sent to school sick for any number of reasons, including parents who said they worried about being reported to truancy court and others saying they didn’t have childcare options. 

Sick kids at school aren't giving themselves the best chance to get better. They are also spreading the virus to other students, teachers and staff.

We understand parents worry about trouble from keeping kids out of school. And we know some parents worry about missing work while they stay home with a sick child.

Cumberland County Schools policy 6.200 includes illness under reasons for an excused absence. Parents, you should provide a written note when your child returns to school stating the reason for their absence. School procedures allow five parent notes per semester, but if you have concerns, talk with your principal.

Each business makes their own rules for employee absences, and that can sometimes result in difficult choices for parents. We urge parents to plan ahead for the inevitable days when your child may be sick. We urge businesses to implement policies that recognize parents may sometimes need to stay home with their children.

The best way to prevent the flu is to get the flu vaccine. Even if the vaccine is for another flu strain, it can help the immune system fight off the flu and make the illness shorter and less severe.

Once symptoms develop, however, people need to stay home and avoid contact with others. That includes not going to school, to work, to the store, to church or other areas that bring together crowds of people.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends keeping kids — and yourself — home until you have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of medication. Antiviral medication can help reduce the severity of the flu if taken in the first two days. Rest and fluids often are just what the doctor ordered, though some patients may experience complications and require more care. 

Other seasonal bugs include stomach ailments. If you’ve had bouts of vomiting and/or diarrhea, you need to stay home until you’re symptom free for 24 hours. 

Knox County Schools recommends keeping kids home if they have a fever higher than 100.5, if they are throwing up or have diarrhea, or if eyes are pink and crusty.

School officials are monitoring attendance across the county. But whether schools are called off for a few days or not, keeping kids home when they're sick gives everyone the best chance for feeling better. 

—Crossville Chronicle

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