Grafton High School closed early today after more than a third of its students and more than a quarter of its staff stayed home sick. It is the only school in the state to close, according to public health and education departments, but absenteeism has been elevated some communities across the state. At the beginning of the school year, state officials urged schools to close only as a last resort during flu season and instead focus on keeping sick students isolated at home. Grafton school and public health officials were in close contact with the state health department before today’s action, Smith said
Keep in mind, this isn’t that a third of the student body became sick over a two week period. One third were sick on the same day.
I don’t mean to sound all ‘In my day, we came down with Ebola. And we liked it!’, but I’ve done some basic Googling and Lexis-Nexising, and I haven’t found anything like this, where so many schools have been hammered with a virus–and it seems from Boston’s spring experience with TEH SWINEY FLOO!!, that many schools did have incredible absenteeism rates. Grafton isn’t exceptional.
Maybe it’s just a result of a completely naive, unexposed population (against most influenzas, some people will be immune, either due to previous or current vaccination or exposure). Perhaps if we monitored rhinoviruses the same way, we would see colds spread through schools in a similar pattern–even though, one-third of students having a cold on the same day still seems extraordinarily high. Although my memory is foggy, I don’t remember this kind of epidemic spread for colds either (granted, absenteeism for colds is lower, but that should only increase the spread through schools).
On the other hand, vaccination rates weren’t that high against influenza, and handwashing hygiene 25 – 30 years ago was non-existent: we certainly didn’t have alcohol handwashing stations in classrooms.
And we liked it!
I’m not going into La-La Land here–I’m not blaming TEH EVIL LIBRUL VACKSEENS. But is my memory (and Googling) being really selective? Or have we not really witnessed something rip through so many schools on a regional and national level for decades?