Huntsville parents concerned about flu in schools

The school district said one school had about 30% of its students absent last week.

Posted: Feb 11, 2019 5:21 PM
Updated: Feb 11, 2019 7:03 PM

Some school districts across the Tennessee Valley shut down for the flu this year. Other districts chose to stay open despite a high number of absences.

On Monday, some Huntsville City Schools parents expressed their concerns about the absences. The school system's superintendent sent out a message to parents in the past week saying there was a 90 percent attendance rate across the district, but parents said they think the numbers are off.

Nikki Dill is a Hampton Cove Middle School parent, and she's also the president of the Parent Teacher Association.

"In the past 24 hours, I have had close to 100 parents confirm that they have had a child in either the elementary school or middle school who have been hit with the flu and have been diagnosed with the flu," she said.

Dill explained the flu has hit her household and kept her son out of school.

"He's had a fever of 103, and he's had muscle aches," she said.

Her family, however, isn't the only one impacted.

"My son received the flu vaccine, so it took me a minute to realize he did have the flu. He did miss five full days of school last week," said another parent, Laurie Chapman.

Both mom's said they questioned why the school remained open.

"I've never seen a flu outbreak like this in all the time I've had my children in school," Dill said.

Dill said she learned from the school that half of the sixth grade was out one day last week and attendance overall was down 30 percent.

"If our school had this many students out, then we should have been allowed to shut down the school, clean our school, and allow our students to get healthy," said Chapman.

A school board member, Elisa Ferrell, said the attendance rate on Friday at Hampton Cove Middle school was 78.6 percent.

Some parents said they want to know that the school district is taking their concerns seriously.

"Our situation has been minimized. We're not really convinced that the cleaning and spraying is going to be really curtailing it," Dill said.

On Monday afternoon, Huntsville City Schools spokesperson, Keith Ward, sent out the message below regarding flu in the schools:

"Huntsville City Schools current attendance average on Monday, February 11, is at approximately 93%. We had a few schools that had a downward spike last week, but as of today, they have all bounced back to, at least, the 90% District average. HCS operations and custodial staff have been working after school with extensive disinfection procedures to treat high traffic and surface contact areas such as desks, tables, door handles, and seating areas. The District also uses a specialized disinfectant sprayer in these areas as an additional resource. Hampton Cove was one such campus that received these extra measures. Last Monday, Hampton Cove’s schools were below the District’s average, posting an attendance rate of approximately 74%. Today, Hampton Cove Elementary and Middle schools’ combined attendance rate is at 92%. We are appreciative of parents who cooperated with the District’s Preventative Health Procedures by keeping their sick child at home, and we are thankful for the hard work by our HCS cleaning teams. Huntsville City Schools will continue with our cleaning and disinfection processes to help fight germs during this cold and flu season."

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