Friday, October 23, 2009

Student Illnesses

The cold and flu season is upon us.  We hear this every year, but with all of the news surrounding influenza, H1N1 and "swine flu" it kind of takes on some new meaning.  Based solely on the number of memos we have distributed on behalf of the state, we all know that this is no ordinary cold and flu season.

Since school started this year, you have received information on how to avoid the flu, how to tell if you have the flu, what to do if you get the flu, and where to get a flu shot.  If you think you are getting inundated with this information, keep in mind, I get it twice - once directly from the Department of Education and then again at home from my children's schools.  It can be, to say the least, overwhelming.

In the end, there are some basic things that we all need to know, to be aware of and to do in order to keep our schools and our students as healthy as possible.

First, if your child is ill, please keep him or her home.  This is particularly important if he or she exhibits flu-like symptoms.  Please keep them home until they are better.  We've already had a few students return to school saying they weren't really feeling better but they wanted to come back to school. 

Second, encourage your child to wash his or her hands frequently.  Every one of our classrooms has hand sanitizer available.  Any time a student coughs or sneezes into his or her hands, he or she should be "cleansing."  Better yet, encourage your child to use a tissue or, better still, his or her sleeve when coughing or sneezing.   Check out this video:  After using the restroom, he or she needs to wash his or her hands - yes, you need to remind them of this!  What seems to be obvious to adults in terms of hygiene, is not so obvious to 10 - 14 year-olds. 

You can find the latest information from the NJ Department of Education on the parent information page of our website:  While I know you probably feel that there's nothing more you can read about the flu and H1N1, please take a moment to review the information.  More importantly, take some time to remind your child about the simple things they can do to minimize the chances of getting sick this cold and flu season.


Anonymous said...

Some children have returned to school and/or attended school while sick because they get letters home saying that 'at this % of days absent they are at risk of being held back because of the State's requirement of 160 days in school' I see it as a big catch 22.

mrubright said...

The person who made the comment above makes a good point. The absence letter that was sent out in early October was a form letter that has been used for the last couple of years. Our procedure for dealing with absences has been changed to reflect the current concerns about influenza. While there is still an attendance requirement, illness is grounds for an appeal. Future letters will better explain that we want sick kids to stay home and they won't be penalized for being ill. The situation was brought to my aattention after the initial letters were sent out and we dealt with it immediately. Thanks for reading the blog and thanks for bringing a valid concern to my attention.
Mike Rubright

Anonymous said...

On a similiar note about being penalized.... We should also make sure teachers are not putting comments on the report cards stating students have poor attendance. Another catch 22.

mrubright said...

While I understand your concern about "poor attendance" on report cards, the comments are there to justify grades. If a student has a C or D and the only reason a teacher has for that grade is that the student is not in class, they need to put that in the comment section. Not all students are absent from school because of illness related to influenza. We have had students out for week-long vacations, which would not be part of what we are doing in response to influenza.
Report card comments are not part of a students final transcript, so as long as a student makes up missed work, their grades should not be a major issue due to absences.
Mike Rubright