Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Number of Sick Students on the Rise; Many Complain of Flu-Like Symptoms

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Number of Sick Students on the Rise; Many Complain of Flu-Like Symptoms

Article excerpt

Byline: Lisa Woods, Shorelines staff writer

Body aches, fevers and upset stomachs have been keeping hundreds of Beaches area students home from school.

School health officials said the number of students complaining of flu-like symptoms has been much higher this year than last.

"I don't remember it being quite as virulent last year," said Toni Capwell, nurse for Nease High School. "I feel bad for the kids; basically all you can do is treat the symptoms."

On Wednesday, 25 students were absent at Nease because of illness. At Foundation Academy, a Jacksonville Beach private school, 33 were absent that day. At Fletcher Middle School, 42 students were out sick Tuesday; at Ponte Vedra-Palm Valley Elementary School, 56 were absent that day.

"This is the largest percent of students that have been out sick since I've been here," said Fletcher Principal Jill Budd.

Symptoms and illnesses range from body aches and strep throat to typical viral symptoms that disappear within 24 to 48 hours. Capwell said if a student has a virus, the best remedy is water and rest.

"But if it lasts more than 24 hours, I tell parents that they need to see a doctor," she said. "If their throat feels funny and if it's hard for them to swallow, they definitely need to see a doctor because it could be strep."

Donna Wethington, a health coordinator for the St. Johns County School District, said the nurses in the elementary schools have been giving demonstrations on how to wash hands thoroughly. She has suggested that school staff members wipe down the desks with disinfectants more than they normally do.

"In the elementary schools, we are trying to do the prevention type of things," Wethington said.

Nadia Hionides, principal for the Foundation Academy, said her teachers have extra bottles of liquid disinfectant in the classrooms.

"This year is much worse," Hionides said. "Whatever the bug is now is knocking them down with fever and diarrhea and vomiting. …

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