Health dept. asks schools for daily attendance numbers to monitor flu

2 schools briefly closed during H1N1 outbreak

INDIANAPOLIS - The Marion County Health Department has asked all schools to send them daily reports of absence rates starting Thursday.

They said there is no reason for concern right now, but they want to stay ahead of any potential problems since this year's flu virus seems to be so strong.

At IPS School 27, they pride themselves on their excellent attendance rate, but this flu season they are actively looking for sick kids and they won't hesitate to send them home.

Dad Michael Spear was immediately called when his 8-year-old started feeling bad at school.

"I was at work and I just got a call that Jackson had to come home," Spear said. "He saw the nurse here and just was sick, tummy and was feeling a little bit warm and he needed to get picked up."

"We are proactively watching," said Principal Jamilyn Bertsch. "If we see any students who are exhibiting any of the symptoms of the flu, we are immediately referring them to our learning well nurse who works here at our school, and we contact parents to let them know."

It's something the Marion County Health Department has asked all schools to do. 

"We will also be requesting of the school systems to give us daily absenteeism rates of their children, so that we can monitor that very carefully in terms of any possibilities where we may need to close school systems," said Dr. Virginia Caine, with the health department. 

Schools aren't even close to having to do that at this point, but parents, like Jackson's dad, are glad they're being proactive.

"I appreciate them doing that and I got down here as soon as I could," Spear said.

There are also two other major respiratory viruses going around right now in addition to the flu that can look very similar to the flu.
    
Schools are also actively teaching kids to wash their hands well and not touch their faces.

The Marion County Health Department closed two schools in 2009 during the H1N1 outbreak as a precaution.
 

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