RACINE — Racine Unified School District sent a clear message out to parents and guardians this weekend: If your child is sick with the flu, don’t send them to school.
The voice message sent out on Sunday night said that Unified schools have seen a continuing increase in children with flu and flu-like illnesses.
“We want you to know that we are cleaning the schools thoroughly and reminding the students to cover their coughs and wash their hands while at school,” the message stated. “But to stop these respiratory illnesses from spreading we ask that if your child is sick with any of these symptoms, including fever or cough, that you keep them at home.”
Stacy Tapp, the district’s chief of communications, said that last Thursday Fratt Elementary, 3501 Kinzie Ave., had 42 students absent due to illness and several more students sent home during the school day. Wadewitz Elementary, 2700 Yout St., also reported similar numbers.
Tapp said the district is still compiling data from other schools, but so far those two seem to be the ones most dramatically affected by this year’s flu. Tapp said RUSD sent the message out to be proactive and inform families.
The message from Unified advised parents not to return their children to school until their flu symptoms recede and they’ve been fever-free for 24 hours without taking a fever-reducing medication.
Since the flu is infectious for up to 48 hours, Tapp said the district is hoping the three-day weekend brought about by heavy snowfall on Thursday night, which prompted Unified to cancel school on Friday, will reduce the number of cases going forward.
The flu started spreading throughout Wisconsin this season in September, according to a press release from the state’s Department of Health Services. The respiratory illness is having a heavier local impact than it has in recent years, figures show.
As of late January, there had been 49 flu-related hospitalizations recorded so far this season for the City of Racine and villages of Wind Point and Elmwood Park, compared with 23 cases between January and April last year. The totals include confirmed and probable cases.
Dottie-Kay Bowersox, the public health administrator for the city’s Public Health Department, said in late January that the ages of people hospitalized for issues related to the flu in her jurisdiction range from 11 months to 96 years, with an average age of about 62.