H1N1 absences apparent at city schools but no closures… yet

By David F. Rooney

Relatively small numbers of students have been calling in sick to the city’s five schools, says School District 19 Superintendent Anne Cooper.

“We are required to report the absence rate with it exceeds 10 per cent of a school’s popualation,” she said Wednesday. “So far we’ve only had to do that once.”

That school was Columbia Park Elementary and student population numbers there were back to normal in a day or so. Cooper and the districts principals and teachers have their fingers crossed in hope of warding off the kind of school closures that have happened in Kitimat and other Canadian cities.

So far so good, but students are coming down with, to employ the euphemism in vogue with bureaucrats, “symptoms consistent with H1N1.”

Fortunately, students, parents and school staff have been taking sensible precautions: washing frequently, using the hand sanitizers that have been stationed in every school and coughing into their elbows — not their hands.

“It used to be that kids would just spew it out when they coughed,” Cooper said. “Not any more.”

Linda Chell, of the Revelstoke Child Care Society who recently weathered her own unconfirmed Swine Flu case, wondered if this won’t alter the social behaviour of both children and adults.

“You’re seeing it everywhere: people coughing into their elbows,” she said.

Chell said she had the bug last week. She suffered from a 24/7 pounding headache, severe pains and aches in her joints, fever and chills.