As the week progressed last week, the absentee numbers climbed daily. On Wednesday, 80 students in the high school (grades 9 to 12) were missing from school. On Thursday that number climbed to 130 and by Friday it was near 150. In the middle school, there were about 40 students absent in the seventh and eighth grade as the sixth grade class was attending winter camp at Long Lake Conservation Center at Palisade. Absentee numbers at the elementary school were normal in comparison.
Beth Realdsen, school nurse, said any time the absentee numbers double, she is required to notify the Department of Health. The enrollment at the high school is more than 453, middle school, 350 and elementary school is about 569.
Students are complaining of sore throats, headache, cough, fever, and dizziness.
The students werenít the only ones reporting in absent. Several teachers called in sick and others, instead of going home sick, stayed due to the lack of substitute teachers.
Realdsen encouraged parents to keep their children home 24 hours with a normal temperature before sending them back to school. ďSometimes the flu will peak and be over and other times it will hang on,Ē she said.
Realdsen called the State Department of Health and the Stearns County Department of Health and found no other area schools reporting large numbers of students out sick.
On Monday, the numbers were looking better at the high school. Eighty students were on the absentee list in the morning, but by noon, the number had dropped to 60 as students came back to school. However, the numbers at the middle school and elementary school were rising. At 1 p.m. Monday, the middle school reported 82 absent and the elementary school 75.
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