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Pictou County schools see high absenteeism due to illness

There has been a high number of students absent from Pictou County schools recently. Parents are being encouraged to talk with their children about how to prevent the spread of germs.
There has been a high number of students absent from Pictou County schools recently. Parents are being encouraged to talk with their children about how to prevent the spread of germs. - The News

New Glasgow Academy was expected to get a deep clean last night to help counteract some illness that’s been spreading through the school.

On Monday 14 per cent of the school’s student population called in sick and on Tuesday 13 per cent were absent.

From what Principal Allison Wilson said she’s heard, they’re not alone in the battle against germs. Other schools in the county also seeing high numbers of children out sick.

“The school board is coming in tonight with special cleaning supplies,” Wilson said on Tuesday. “They’ve already had to do two or three schools in the area.”

The school has reported the high frequency of illness to Public Health as is required when absences exceed 10 per cent.

To help with their reporting to public health, the school is asking parents leaving messages about their child’s absence to say whether it is gastrointestinal or respiratory in nature and sent a message to parents on Tuesday to that effect.

At New Glasgow Academy the primary sickness causing the absences appears to be gastrointestinal, Wilson said.

“It seems to be this year it tends to be a lot more of the vomiting and diarrhea,” she said adding that it tends to cycle through families with multiple children and is lasting a couple days.

In addition to the deep cleaning the school board is doing at the school, Wilson said they’re encouraging parents to talk with their children about ways to help prevent spreading germs by coughing into their elbow, washing their hands frequently and not sharing water bottles.

Lesley Mulcahy, Communications Advisor for Nova Scotia Health said it’s important they have information about the nature of the illness so they can be aware if something out of the ordinary is happening which is why it’s helpful if people specify why their child is out sick

“This is pretty standard practice across the province. It would help in terms of determining if there’s greater public health risk.”

If parents have are concerned about their child’s illness or have questions about how long to keep them home, Mulcahy said the can call 811 to talk with a registered nurse for advice. While recommendations vary depending on specific illnesses as far as general guideline, health experts advice that with the standard Noro virus that students should not come back to school until they are symptom free for 24 hours.

“With flu we typically say when they are free of fever and/or able to participate in school activities,” Mulcahy said.

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