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June 1, 2020

2/5/2020 12:57:00 PM
An ounce of prevention

In an unprecedented and extraordinary move, Jennings County School Corp. officials closed Hayden Elementary School for three days last week after the number of absentee students raised to an alarming level.

This wise move was necessary to stem an influenza outbreak that saw 75 students miss school, 25 percent of the Hayden student body, on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

School officials conferred with the Indiana and Jennings County health departments and other experts before deciding to take the almost unheard of step to shutter Hayden Elementary for three school days.

Along with two days for the weekend, that gave custodial crews five days to clean and disinfect the school. The long period also provided time for ailing students to recover and prevent the spread of the flu virus to others.

The school reopened like normal on Monday, Feb. 3, with around 44 students absent. Early indications are that JCSC prevented an increase in flu numbers by its proactive measures.

Those measures included bringing in extra manpower to assist the Hayden custodial staff with disinfecting and "deep cleaning" the school and school buses. The extra steps were necessary because the flu virus is exceptionally resilient, able to survive for days on surfaces while it just waits for the chance to "attack" another victim.

The flu outbreak is by no means over, but the number of ill students at Hayden and other schools in the county this week are significantly lower than last week. That development may well have happened on its own, but the flip side is the flu outbreak could have grown much worse.

While hindsight is always 20-20, people need to take preventative
measures against the flu every year. That includes washing one's hands often, covering one's mouth when sneezing and coughing, drinking plenty of fluid and, of course, getting vaccinated. Private health insurance plans and others such as Hoosier Healthwise, Medicaid and Medicare cover most if not all of the cost of flu vaccines. Even without insurance, flu shots are dispensed at a mere $5 apiece by the Jennings County Health Department at its weekly vaccination clinic. Even now, it's not too late to get the flu shot according to county health nurse Pam Petry and other experts.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That still rings true today.

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