Down and out

Sick students plague local schools



Strawberry Park Elementary School student Max Luber struggles to swallow a Tylenol on Tuesday in the nurse's office. Health aide Beth Stevens said she saw 36 sick students Tuesday at the school. Luber was complaining of a fever and an earache.

— Teachers at Christian Heritage School are feverishly trying to get their hands on one thing - Lysol.

"That's one thing teachers have been buzzing about - Lysol, Lysol, Lysol," said Keri Couchoud, director of development at the private Steamboat Springs school.

Mary Dierdorff, head nurse at Steamboat Medical Group, said the office has seen a large number of patients in recent weeks, most of them complaining about an upper respiratory illness complete with a cough and nasal congestion.

For some patients, the symptoms have turned into bronchitis. For most, it has been a nagging cold.

Winters have a tendency to bring out the worst in bacteria and viruses. Officials at Soda Creek and Strawberry Park elementary schools said attendance has been down in recent weeks because of illness.

Strawberry Park health aide Beth Stevens said she saw 36 children on Tuesday alone.

"We have a lot of sick kids right now," said Dot Haberlan, Routt County team leader for school health services. "The elementary kids are running about 40 to 50 absences a day with illness. This current wave of illness started maybe a week or a couple weeks ago. (Monday and Tuesday) we probably saw the most sick kids."

Haberlan said the most prevalent illnesses at Steamboat Springs School District schools are the same as those being seen at Christian Heritage School and all across town - upper respiratory viruses, strep throat, bronchitis and a stomach virus.

Stacy Magee, nurse for the Hayden School District, fought off a respiratory virus last week and was back at Hayden Valley Elementary School on Tuesday.

"Mostly what we are seeing is upper respiratory things like cold, cough, bronchitis," Magee said. "We've seen a few kids with vomiting, so like a stomach virus, too."

Haberlan said she understands it is difficult for parents who work to keep children home from school, but school isn't the best place for children to recover. In addition to spreading illnesses, sick children aren't benefiting from being in class.

"Sometimes we forget school is demanding for kids and it is stressful," Haberlan said. She provided some rules to follow when deciding how to handle a sick child.

"We'd like to ask parents to not send their students if they have thrown up the night before or have thrown up before coming to school," Haberlan said. "We would like them to be fever-free for 24 hours ideally."

Mid-winter illnesses are "par for the course" she added, and nothing the nurses have seen in Steamboat or Hayden is atypical for this time of year - except one thing.

The number of reported influenza cases is down, Dierdorff and Magee said. Magee wasn't sure if that was encouraging or meant that the typical winter bout of flu hasn't hit.

The stomach virus that many Routt County residents have had is not influenza.

"With the actual flu we see kids out for a week," Magee said.

To avoid spreading germs, parents and children should wash their hands frequently and cover their mouths with their arms when coughing because hands are the biggest culprit for spreading germs. Getting a good night's sleep also helps the immune system attack illness.


Gladys 10 years, 2 months ago

Why is the school nurse seeing 36 sick students in one day? If a kid is vomiting or has a fever, keep them at home. It's called common sense and common courtesy.

southroutt - how old is this child vomiting only in the morning?


Gladys 10 years, 2 months ago

Could be stress - does he/she dislike school? Are mornings (getting ready) particularly hectic? What's for breakfast? How long has this been going on? Anything "new" in the house? How is your furnace? Does the vomiting stop after leaving the house or just after a certain time of day? Any other children and if so, are they also vomiting? Any complaints of a headache? A 5 yr old will generally not automatically complain of a headache, but you should ask.


Gladys 10 years, 2 months ago

While a bad homelife could definitely cause this kind of upset in a child, it was not my first thought. southroutt - you should ignore rude and thoughtless remarks by such people as cleve. I think his negativity is obvious.

I am wondering if it could be low levels of carbon monoxide? That is why I asked if there are other children and if there are any complaints of headaches.


Gladys 10 years, 2 months ago

Could be...actually could be lots of things. Something as simple as an intolerance for a breakfast food. Be sure to ask if there is a headache. I'm sure I don't need to tell you to keep an eye on things and if it continues, see a doctor. I do hope your chld feels better soon - always sad to see the little ones sick.


vic 10 years, 2 months ago

I caught something around the first of December (even though I had my flu shot in October). The first day, a brain crushing headache. The second day, vomiting. The third day swollen glands and severe sore throat. From there, it went to my chest, then to my head - lasted about 2 weeks. Each day, the symptom from the day before totally disappeared - until it reached my head (in the form of a "cold"). Strangest illness I have had in a great while.

As for sending kids to school sick - I was astonished by the number of sick kids the school nurse saw in one day. I worked full time when my kids were young and it was a true hardship when one of them had to stay home from school. But, I did have a "policy". If they had a fever or throwing up on the way out the door - no school. If a kid is that sick, they are not learning, they are truly miserable and of course spreading germs, which in turn causes hardship for another child/family. School is not a babysitting service.


corduroy 10 years, 2 months ago

clevedave: way to be a jerk. There's no reason to post something nasty about someone that's unrelated to their question

I'm shocked that this many kids are still going to school! Keep them home if they are sick!


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