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Local schools continue monitoring students, staff amid flu epidemic

Leon County Schools monitoring students, staff during this flu season
Leon County Schools monitoring students, staff during this flu season
Posted at 3:55 PM, Feb 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-01 13:53:01-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - Officials say the widespread flu epidemic is continuing into February, with more people getting sick.

Flu activity in the Sunshine State is considered to be high, though in Leon County, the activity is at a moderate level, but increasing, according to the Florida Department of Health.

When it comes to the schools within Leon County, about 800 students have been out sick these last several weeks, likely due to the flu.

"Our schools are reflective of what's going on in our neighborhoods an in our community," said Chris Petley, the spokesperson for Leon County Schools. "While we can't say that all 800 of those folk are sick and under the weather, we can probably guestimate that a large percentage of them are."

The absences caused by the flu don't just stop at the students. Some of the teachers, staff, and bus drivers are also getting sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms.

"We are monitoring, actually, our teacher absences and making sure we have enough substitutes to cover the classrooms and even our bus drivers," said Petley. "I think we'll continue to monitor the situation."

Many of us will spend this weekend preparing for the big game, but the Leon County Schools custodial staff will be busy cleaning the campuses.

"We are taking an opportunity this weekend to approve overtime for our custodial staffs to come in and do more of a deeper clean," said Petley. "It's Super Bowl Weekend, so we are doing a super cleaning."

Although each school has a full custodial staff on duty, this weekend's cleaning acts as an extra step to keep the flu virus at bay...and with flu activity increasing in the county, this cleaning could not have come at a better time.

"In regards to Leon County, it is increasing," said Labake Ajayi, an epidemiologist with the Florida Department of Health. "We haven't reached our peak yet. That's just within, not only our county, but also statewide and nationwide."

TMH released the following statement to WTXL regarding the flu:

"Due to the severity of this year's flu season, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare's emergency centers are experiencing higher than normal patient volumes. On Monday January 29th, our emergency centers treated over 400 patients. The Bixler Trauma & Emergency Center implemented a new process to expedite the treatment of patients presenting with flu-like symptoms. For a short period of time on Monday, these patients were evaluated in a separate triage area traditionally used by EMS."