According to data from the U.S. Outpatient Influenza-like Illness Surveillance Network, doctor visits for cases of the flu are finally decreasing around the state, dropping from a high point of around 19 percent of weekly visits in the first week of February to around 9 percent over the last week.
The flu season, which typically runs from November through February, has made an impact on adults and children around McPherson County.
USD 418 Superintendent Gordon Mohn said McPherson Middle School has been hit hardest by the flu.
“We peaked on Feb. 12 with 121 students — 22 percent — absent,” Mohn said. “Our other buildings have ranged from six to 12 percent over the past two weeks.”
Absence ratings declined after Feb. 12.
“We are hoping that this (means) we will see a continued decline,” Mohn said.
The flu has affected teachers and staff at the schools as well, but did not reach a crisis point. The schools were able to cover adult absences with substitutes and reassignment of duties.
McPherson schools have combated the spread of the flu in multiple ways.
“Custodial and maintenance staff have increased sanitizing routines,” Mohn said. “Teaching staff encourages students to practice good flu prevention behaviors.”
There are no current plans to close schools because of the flu.
“Our criteria for closing school due to the flu hinges on two things,” Mohn said, “advice from county health officials that school closure is necessary as a public health measure and not having enough adult staff to provide safe and effective instruction. Thus far, neither one of those criteria has been present.”
Thus far, McPherson schools have been closed for two days this school year. Those closures were due to icing and extreme cold weather.