More than 70 schools in Tennessee Valley close from flu

Doctors and school administrators weigh in on why closing schools was a good idea

More than 70 schools in Tennessee Valley close from flu

FAYETTEVILLE, TN (WAFF) - During the past month, 76 schools across the Tennessee Valley have shut down because of the flu.

“We were at 97 students in my building of 350 at the time,” Fayetteville High School principal Eric Jones said.

Fayetteville High School had to close more than once this flu season.

“I’ve been in schools for 19 years, this is by far just a few weeks ago, the worst flu virus break out I’ve seen. It just happened quickly. The fevers were terrifying," Jones said.

Fayetteville High School is one of the 76 schools in the Tennessee Valley that closed this flu season. Schools in Cullman, Marshall and Jackson counties, as well as schools in southern middle Tennessee were forced to close.

“Well, if they have a fever, don’t send them. Of course, and you wanna be fever-free for 24 to 48 hours before you would go back to school," family physician Tim Howard said.

Jones said kids were coming to school fever free, then leaving with 102 to 103 degree temperatures. He said school administrators made the decision for something drastic to be done.

“It’s evident that there’s something that’s really affecting their health and then it’s spreading and you can see that, you need to do everything you can to try and address it," Jones continued.

He says closing school was the best decision administrators could have made, and local doctors agree.

Howard says to be good stewards of your kids who are sick, and try to weed them out. He also says make sure you clean your surfaces.

That’s exactly what Fayetteville school administrators did.

“We all just came in and literally wiped down every surface with household cleansers, and then we were able to use aerosol sanitizers that you’d find commercially. When the kids came in it was about as sterile of an environment that you could get, outside of a hospital," Jones said.

Two local doctors have some tips for you to keep your kids and others healthy the rest of this flu season.

“Number one would be, get a flu shot,” Howard said.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Ali Hassoun says, “the flu shot takes about two to four weeks to be effective, but it’s usually two weeks. If you’ve been vaccinated before, your chances of getting more immune in two weeks is much higher.”

“Wash your hands. You never know when you shake somebody’s hand then you rub your eye, that you may be spreading that," Howard said.

Both Howard and Hassoun say if you’re feeling sick, avoid direct contact with people. They also recommend seeing a primary care physician early on.

The earlier, the better, they say.

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