Many Georgia schools grappling with more flu cases


Several schools and campuses in Georgia are increasingly worried about the flu’s impact on classroom operations as more than 50 Georgians have died from the flu this winter.

Public college campuses are seeing more students with the flu in comparison to last year. Augusta University, for example, has seen a three-fold increase in reported flu cases, said Dr. Robert Dollinger, its director of student health.

Irwin County Elementary School in Ocilla will close on Thursday and Friday because of the large number of teachers who are sick with the flu.

“It’s a very unusual thing,” said Superintendent Thad Clayton. “In my 14-years in the Irwin County School System, this is the single largest staff absenteeism due to the flu that we have experienced. “We’re having a hard time getting subs to fill in.” 

DeKalb County school officials say absences are higher than normal. In Gwinnett County, the state’s largest school district, slightly more than one in 10 schools had at least one day last week where 10 percent of students were absent. Four Fulton County schools had at least one day last week where 10 percent of its students were absent. 

The school districts say although there’s no way to know how many of those absences were related to the flu or flu-like symptoms, they aren’t taking any chances.

Many are deputizing teachers to help custodial crews to clean commonly-used areas and wipe places students frequently touch, such as light switches.

All are encouraging students to get flu shots.

“People tend to forget even 30 percent protection is better than no protection,” Dollinger said.

Click here for an updated version of this report.

-- Staff writers Vanessa McCray, Ty Tagami and Marlon A. Walker contributed to this article.

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