400 City High students absent due to flu-like symptoms - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

400 City High students absent due to flu-like symptoms

IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Flu season appears to have hit its stride in Iowa City. Schools there have reported hundreds of absent students this week, sick with flu-like symptoms.

According to district officials, no Iowa City public school has ever closed due to illness or absenteeism. The real concern will be getting sick students caught back up with their classes.

"We've had outbreaks of illnesses before, but not to this extent," said City High Principal Mark Hanson. There were 400 students gone from school Tuesday, the greatest number Hanson has ever seen at one time. He suspects homecoming activities may have had something to do with the high number of absences this week.

"We had 800 students at our dance Saturday night, and they're packed very closely together, and if there were students that weren't healthy that attended the dance, there was probably a very good chance that some of the illnesses were transmitted that way."

But Thursday, Director of Health Services Susie Poulton told us the situation appeared to be slowly improving. As of Thursday, City High was missing 397 students to excused and unexcused absence, a decrease of 50 from the day before. She noted that Mann and Wood elementaries were missing about 10 percent of their student bodies.

But schools will stay open unless enough faculty and staff become ill, according to Doug Beardsley, Director of Johnson County Public Health. "Closing school down for a week really is not going to do much in terms of supressing the spread of it," Beardsley said.

Hanson recommended that students home sick should stay there, if they're feeling any symptoms.

"If they're feverish, if they've got a sore throat, body aches, those sorts of things you would associate with colds and the flu, just stay home."

When students return, it will be the responsibility of teachers and the students, to get themselves caught up.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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