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Public health officials have confirmed there is widespread flu in Grady County, and school officials report they are seeing many empty desks in classrooms this week. All but Cairo High School and Shiver School are reporting many out with illness with Whigham School seeing the highest number of absences.
As of Tuesday, 118 students and 12 faculty and staff were absent at Whigham School, according to Dr. Kermit Gilliard, superintendent of Grady County Schools.
Washington Middle School reported a high number of student absences Tuesday at 65, nearly double the 33 students out there on Monday. Dr. Gilliard reports that it is unknown, though, how many of those are out due to the flu.
At Eastside Elementary School, 43 students were out on Monday, and 30 absent on Tuesday. Although one teacher was out Monday, six were reported absent on Tuesday, Gilliard states.
At Southside Elementary School, one teacher and 35 students were absent Tuesday.
Shiver School reported 23 students absent on Tuesday, but knew of only one having the flu.
Data for Northside Elementary School was not available Tuesday, according to Gilliard.
Although the Southwest Health District cannot confirm an exact number of flu cases in Grady County, the district epidemiologist did confirm flu is widespread here, according to Courtney D. Sheeley, director of communications with the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The Department of Public Health encourages people to get a flu vaccine. They also offer the following guidelines to follow during flu season, which can last through the spring.
• Be sure to get a flu vaccine annually. Everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season, surely those who are at high risk of serious complications from the flu (i.e., adults older than 65, pregnant women, young children, those with heart disease). This is the best way to prevent the flu.
• Stay home when sick. This helps prevent the illness from spreading to others.
• Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing and sneezing.
• Clean hands often!
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
This Friday, Dec. 20 is an early release day for Grady County Schools and is the beginning of the Christmas break.