HUNTSVILLE, Ala - The flu is widespread in Alabama and schools in the Tennessee Valley have had to take extreme measures to combat the virus. Fayetteville City and the Lincoln County districts in Tennessee were closed Wednesday through Friday last week. Back in north Alabama, the Marshall County District was closed as well.
They reopened their doors Monday morning, but some students are still out sick. There were 84 students absent due to being sick in Fayetteville City. But compared to more than the 300 who were out earlier this month, the district thinks things are starting to improve. Lincoln County the district had 93% attendance Monday. Last week they were down to 83% attendance.
There have been 15 flu-related deaths reported in Alabama this flu season. One of those was a pediatric death that took place last week. The location of that fatality is not available in the state's weekly influenza newsletter. According to the latest data from the state health department, the Jefferson, Northeastern, and northern Alabama districts are seeing the highest flu numbers.
Fortunately, the Huntsville City School district hasn't seen a spike in cases.
"As a district average, the numbers have been pretty par on course with what we've seen in previous years for this time of year," said Keith Ward, the district's communications director.
That doesn't mean the district isn't hard at work combating the flu. A top priority for the custodial staff is keeping the schools clean and disinfected.
"That has very specific products that they use for cleaning the hand contact surfaces inside the school," said Ward.
The district has a team that deep cleans each school on a rotational basis.
"If they have an indication of a particular school that is seeing a bit of a spike in student illnesses then they'll dispatch that crew to go overnight and do a deep cleaning of an individual building," he said.
And they're bringing out the big guns to get the job done. They are using a tool called the Victory Sprayer.
"It's a mist sprayer unit that has a disinfectant type material that's nontoxic that we can use on hand contact surfaces, and go into classrooms, and desks, and things," he said.
In addition to all of this, school officials are asking parents to keep their children home if they are sick with the flu.
People with the flu can spread it to others up to 6 feet away. Most experts think flu viruses spread mainly by droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk,
according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.