An uninvited visitor has been lurking in the hallways of the Chillicothe R-2 school system: the flu.
Monday was the hardest hit day this week for R-2, leaving Dewey Elementary with 17 percent of its student body out sick, Field with eight percent out sick, Central with 12 percent out sick, and the Middle School with about 6 percent out sick.
Most of the buildings are taking extra steps to ensure that they are as "germ-free" as possible during this time of year, having extra hand sanitizer available, as well as taking extra hand washing time and having a box of tissues perched on several surfaces.
Steve Haley, principal at CMS, whose attendance has been hovering around 90 percent this week, stated that they are "doing what they can" against the germs, and that they have been sterilizing doorknobs, lockers, tables — just about all surfaces.
Field Elementary, which had the best attendance rates this week, had several teachers out due to illness on Tuesday; three total in the building of 12 classroom teachers.
Classes had yet to return back to normal attendance numbers even this morning (Thursday), as Dewey was still reporting that 13 percent of the student body was out sick.
Dewey Elementary, by far, has had the most absences this week, with attendance under 90 percent every day so far. Two days, Monday and Wednesday, were even below 85 percent. Dewey sent out a message via TextCaster earlier this week, stating: "The flu bug is strong at Dewey. Make sure students are 24 hours fever free before returning to school."
Central sent out an email that was similar to Dewey's message, reminding parents that, per the student handbook, students must be free of temperature for 24 hours without fever-reducing medications before returning to the classroom. Students will be sent back home if it hasn't been a true 24 hours.
"We have to enforce this policy to keep students healthy," the message read.
The high school reported normal absentee numbers for the week.
As for the flu vaccine, one may be hard-pressed to find any available. The Livingston County Health Center ran out of adult vaccine early this flu season, after administering 1,160 doses. It doesn't look good for them to be receiving any more either, for adults. Sherry Weldon, administrator and nurse at the Livingston County Health Center, stated that the center was "strapped." The Health Center has administered over 300 more doses of the vaccine to adults this year than last.
"What we understand is that the numbers aren't excessive," said Weldon, "They are just early."
Even the two pharmacies that the Health Center recommends are also out of the vaccine, as are their suppliers.
The good news? The Health Center is still offering vaccines for children, as an immunization clinic was held today. The next immunization clinic for children will be Thursday, Feb. 14, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Health Center.