Flu slams Marshall County students
By Adriana Pomatto
Since the beginning of the spring semester, Marshall County High School has been plagued with student absences, but the flu rather than inclement weather has been the culprit.
Snow came and went in early in January, leaving behind only a hint of winter. People discovered from the groundhog that winter would not hold steady against spring’s rising temperatures. The bipolar weather made up of thunderstorms began mid-February. Temperatures rose, bringing big storms, and then we were once again frozen to our chairs by morning. These haywire temperatures began to shock our immune systems, which fueled a flu epidemic that rocked the schools.
There were a number of problems that made this epidemic so terrible. First, many students could not afford a doctor’s visit and therefore could not get a doctor’s note. Sick students were stuck going to school, since they are only three parent-written excuses each semester.
Adding to the problem, many students came to school believing they had a minor head cold or allergies. Harsh symptoms didn’t hit them at first, although they were already contagious.
Last, the flu virus was rapidly evolving into new strains, so the flu vaccinations were becoming less effective. Flu tests that looked for specific strains also became ineffective. This left many students feeling hopeless since they knew they had the flu and the doctors knew they had the flu, but the tests couldn’t prove they were truly sick.
A large number of surrounding counties had already closed due to sickness, Grundy County being one of the last to reopen. Marshall County kept its doors open because students needed to finish their education. However, people began to realize that students were not learning what they needed to because they were either too sick to attend or too sick to keep their heads up.
The situation became critical. Parents were calling in, teachers were working even more to keep their students listening, and the students were walking around in misery because they did not have a chance to leave. When asked what English teacher Ms. Tracy Bailey thought about the schools not closing due to illness, she said it was “chancy” and “understandable.”
Finally, on President’s Day weekend, students were excused from school on February 16 and February 17 owing to the increasing number of absences. Grateful students were given a five-day weekend and could sleep in to address their health issues. By Tuesday when students came back to school, nearly everyone had recovered and school attendance went back to normal.