Districts tested by flu related absences


By Joe Moskowitz
If you have a cough, a sore throat, or a runny nose, you are not alone. In fact, if you don’t have any cold, flu or symptoms of whatever it is that’s going around, then you have an immune system to be envied, or it just hasn’t been your turn yet.
Schools have long been great places for viruses and bacteria to gather and do what they are here to do, make people sick, and this year they deserve to be on the illness honor roll.
Margaretville Central School Superintendent Tony Albanese says it’s always bad this time of year, especially in the lower grades, but he can’t recall it ever being this bad.
Growing absentees
One day last week, 60 kids didn’t show up in the morning and another 18 left early because of illness. The next day when the start of school was delayed because of snow, 75, or almost 20 percent of the school’s population didn’t go in at all.

One student said many more kids would have stayed home but with the quarter coming to an end, they didn’t want to miss too many classes.

Usually this kind of information doesn’t come from the superintendent, it comes from the building principal, but MCS building principal Linda Taylor was out sick. Albanese says she almost never gets ill.

Roxbury Central School Principal Eric Windover says he had only missed a couple of days in his entire career, but then he missed three days in a row. Roxbury got hit with the cold and flu prior to the Christmas break, and they got hit hard.

Nearly one-third out
One day, nearly a third of the kids, more than 100 stayed home because of illness. Windover says there is no law, but usually if a school hits the 40 percent absent mark, it is shut down. The holiday break arrived in time to give the school a thorough cleaning.

Windover says the custodial staff spent the break disinfecting every square inch. Every desk, every doorknob, every handle was cleaned and sprayed and now the wave of illnesses is gone from Roxbury.

RCS first-grade teacher Lisa Riley is taking no chances, however. She takes the kids LEGOS home every night and runs them through the dishwasher. She was reluctant to let the News mention this because she said, “My husband thinks I’m crazy.”

The day the News spoke with Riley, her class had perfect attendance.