SAN ANTONIO – Confirmed flu cases have spiked in many local schools since the beginning of January, and nurses and health directors from multiple school districts are battling the same issues while giving parents the same advice.
After 20 years of being a school nurse, Tara Dye has seen it all. This season, she's seeing more sick kids sent home than usual.
"Probably, I would say two to three a day," she said, adding that in other seasons, there are days she won't send any kids home sick.
When students go to the nurse, their temperatures are taken immediately. At Northside Independent School District campuses, if the student's temperature is 100 or greater, the child is sent home.
Dye works for Northside ISD, which does not mandate nurses to track the exact number of confirmed flu cases.
Northeast ISD, on the other hand, keeps detailed numbers.
NEISD reported 333 cases in December and 751 in January. Vineyard Ranch Elementary has had the most cases in January with 46. Lopez Middle School is close behind with 41. In December and January, 137 staff members were absent from school with the flu.
NEISD Director of Health Services Maria Perez asks campus nurses for flu reports each week.
"Every time a parent reports their child has the flu, the nurse goes into the student’s record. We have an electronic system, Health Check is what we call it. I have a spreadsheet with all the school campuses. I have 69, and they all have to keep track of it weekly, how many cases they have at the end of every week," Perez said.
Regardless of case numbers, NISD, NEISD, San Antonio ISD, and Southside ISD are all reporting the same issue. Kids are leaving school sick, going to the doctor but coming back too early.
"Please keep them home until they're fever-free for 24 hours, and that includes no medication, because they come back to school and they don't have fever in the morning, but by noon, the medicine's wearing off so they have that fever again," Dye said. "That’s definitely how we’re spreading it."
All districts said, like during every flu season, custodians are cleaning surfaces more frequently and kids are being asked to wash their hands throughout the day.
Southside and Northeast ISD have given free vaccinations to any students with a signed release.