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Area schools deal with flu abundance

Area school districts are dealing with sick kids, but not to the extent of Detroit Lakes Public School when over 8-10 students stayed home and another 18 left school early Monday.

Frazee-Vergas and Lake Park-Audubon haven't reached the threshold to notify the state Department of Health for students staying home due to flu-like symptoms.

Waubun-Ogema-White Earth had to report to the state, though.

Schools are asked to report when either 5 percent of students are out because of flu symptoms or when three or more students in an elementary school classroom are home because of flu-like symptoms. Waubun reported because three or more kindergartners have been out with flu-like illness.

"We've seen a spike," said Waubun Superintendent Mitch Anderson.

Frazee-Vergas sent out an Instant Alert on Wednesday advising parents that kids at the two schools were home because they had developed flu-like symptoms.

"It was just a precaution," said Frazee-Vergas Superintendent Deron Stender.

He said that about 40 students district-wide were home this week because of illness.

Lake Park-Audubon hasn't seen a large amount of students with flu-like symptoms as of yet. One LP-A student tested positive for H1N1 after a 4-H outing at the State Fair, with two other students developing symptoms.

LP-A Superintendent Dale Hogie said, though, that H1N1 is coming.

With flu activity considered widespread by the Centers for Disease Control, school officials are asking that parents keep their kids home if they develop symptoms.

Only 272 cases of H1N1 have been confirmed through laboratory testing in the state. Symptoms of H1N1 are similar to seasonal influenza, but Hogie said he's seeing some difference.

"In some instances, the physical symptoms of H1N1 last a shorter period than the regular flu," he said.

He said that students should only be sent back to school if they do not have a fever, with no fever-reducing medication, for 24 hours.

Anderson said that he's counting on parents to keep their kids home if they are sick.

He said he hopes the state Department of Education changes federal Adequate Yearly Progress attendance requirements if the flu in all its varieties knocks more students out of class. AYP standards mandate that districts have a 90 percent attendance rate.

"90 percent would be tough if this thing takes off," Anderson said.