With flu season well underway, two Surrey schools have already been hit hard by the bug with both having classrooms with almost half of students staying home as a result.
The 50 per cent absenteeism rate, said Surrey school district spokesperson Doug Strachan, is currently affecting two elementary schools where illness seems to have struck midway in peak flu season.
"Other than that, we have three other schools with classrooms with a greater than 10 per cent absenteeism as a result of illness," said Strachan.
When asked if this was something unusual for Surrey schools, Strachan said there's always an expectation that bugs will hit schools at this time of year; however, having so many students falling ill in any one classroom is not par for the course.
"Having half the class away is unusual," he said. "But overall, in the district, we're well within our expected absenteeism rates for this time of year. When we get to flu season we know the absenteeism rates are going to go up."
Strachan also noted that it was district policy to report all incidents of more than 10 per cent absenteeism to the district's health and safety team.
"We track those and see if there are trends and to send in extra cleaning resources," said Strachan. "Desktops, doorknobs, rails, keyboards, those things are wiped down more and more thoroughly in schools with such high absenteeism."
Finally, as we go through flu season, Strachan would just like to remind parents and students to err on the side of caution when it comes to tackling sickness.
"The main thing is parents keep their children at home when they're ill, even for two to three days after the last of their symptoms because they can be contagious for a short period after that," said Strachan.
Last week, the Fraser Health Authority took an extra step in an attempt to reduce the spread of influenza by declaring the virus a health hazard. On Jan. 15, the health authority's chief medical officer, Dr. Paul Van Buynder, declared the current level of influenza virus circulating within Fraser Health communities a health hazard under the provisions of the Public Health Act.