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Teacher reminds students to sanitize often for avoiding flu

The flu outbreak has hit central Ohio schools hard. Some districts are having trouble getting enough substitute teachers to hold classes. (WSYX/WTTE)

At Pickerington Elementary School fourth grade teacher Becky Brockwell cleans student desks with sanitary wipes and makes sure students wash their hands and sanitize often. Brockwell, a teacher for 18 years, said it's important to be armed with tools to keep the germs at bay.

Flu season is biting Central Ohio school districts hard. Brockwell's teen daughter came down with fever and the flu and missed four days of school.

"I didn't want her to fall behind but I couldn't send her if she wasn't feeling well either," said Brockwell.

The district's Health Supervisor is nurse Sharon Schmitz, who was working at Pickerington Elementary School on Wednesday to fill in for a school nurse who is taking care of a sick child at home. Schmitz said with flu numbers rising in 40 states across the nation and in Ohio, they are aware of challenges to keep adequate staffing in the district.

At Madison Christian School in Groveport, Superintendent Ray Kochis said he is not sure he will have enough healthy teachers to re-open the schools on Friday. Kochis said the schools will remain closed Thursday and he will make a decision by noon when to re-open. Like many districts, they will be closed on Monday for President's Day.

"We don't want to miss class work, but the flu can be serious," said Kochis, who added both his school principals have the flu.

"I think school districts always have a challenge finding good subs, so we fight that challenge all year long, so certainly when we have an increased need it just compounds the problem," said Schmitz. ""Everyone pitches in to make sure that the safety and well being of our students and staff is taken of."

Schmitz said high school students and faculty can be tough to convince they should stay home when they are ill. "The older grades, you know there's a pressure to keep coming to school, just like adults want to keep coming to work , teachers feel that same thing, and I think the kids feel that same thing, they don't want to get behind."

Schmitz reminds families that hand washing is important along with other healthy habits like healthy eating, and a good night's sleep will help keep the flu numbers down. "It is when we don't take care of our bodies that they get worn down and stress is a big factor as well," said Schmitz.

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