Schools staying vigilant of swine flu

LAKE PLACID - Under normal circumstances, the Beaver River Central School District is responsible for 940 students from kindergarten through grade 12.

But increasing public concern over the novel H1N1 influenza and the arrival of the flu season has created a perfect storm in Beaver River.

As of Tuesday, the Watertown Daily Times reported that 335 students are home sick, pushing the absentee rate to about 35 percent.

That's over one third of the district's total enrollment. And according to Superintendent Leueen Smithling, most of those students have displayed flu-like symptoms.

But locally, school districts remain calm, with all three superintendents reporting relatively normal absentee rates despite the public frenzy over this year's outbreak of swine flu.

In Lake Placid, long-term Superintendent Ernie Witkowski said the district hasn't seen an unusual spike in students staying home from school.

"At this point, we are not seeing any rise in student illness," he said. "It seems to be pretty normal."

But that's not stopping faculty and staff from being vigilant, Witkowski added.

"We're constantly monitoring the situation given what's said to be on the horizon," he said.

Cora Clark is the school nurse for the middle-high school. Witkowski said that the school's policy is to send students home when their temperature is at 100 degrees or above.

"That's the cutoff," he said. "Anything over 100, the nurse encourages students to head home."

Saranac Lake Central School District Superintendent Jerry Goldman said the school year has been business as usual so far.

"Our attendance numbers are actually up from last year," he said. "We're just going to keep doing what we're doing and keep an eye on the situation."

The Tupper Lake Central School Board of Education was presented with attendance numbers at a recent board meeting. Superintendent Seth McGowan said the numbers were "pretty much right on the mark."

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