CLINTON -- A Clinton mother, citing a high percentage of illnesses, has removed her 7-year-old daughter from Lakeside Elementary in West Point in favor of online schooling.
Janalynn McEwen said her daughter, Charlotte, is on medications that seriously lower the immune system's response to illnesses, and she became concerned about the number of children going to school sick. She said she has seen sick students at the school and her children say kids are coming to school sick.
McEwen said two of her elementary-age sons tested positive for H1N1 influenza this week.
"It is maddening to me as a mother that parents are dropping their kids off at school sick," she said. "They are not taking H1N1 seriously."
The Davis County Health Department has reported this week that school absenteeism in Davis district schools has been higher this October than in the same month the past five years.
Brian Hatch, the health department epidemiologist, said the normal school absentee rate for this time of year is 3 percent. The overall absentee rate in Davis School District is 6 percent this week, he said.
Hatch said two schools have a 10 percent absentee rate and 25 schools have a rate between 6 and 10 percent. He said the remaining schools -- about 57 -- have rates of absenteeism below 6 percent.
Tests show that the strain of flu going through the community is H1N1 rather than seasonal flu, he said, adding that seasonal flu illnesses peak in winter months.
"There is no question in my mind that we have H1N1 in the community at a pretty high level and people are exposed to it," Hatch said.
People who are sick should stay home from work and out of the public, and parents with sick children should keep them home from school and away from public places, he said.
Once a fever has been gone for 24 hours -- without the aid of medication -- a normal routine can be safely established for school, work and other public activities.
"Schools are really checking for fevers," he said. "If children have a cough, they won't get excluded from school. A sore throat is a symptom of H1N1. If a child is sick with a sore throat, they are not going to be doing well in school.
"In a nutshell, if your child is sick, it is best to keep them home."
More than 100 cases of influenza hospitalization have been reported for the month of October by the Weber-Morgan Health Department.
"For October alone, that is the highest ever," said communicable disease nurse Tina L'Estrange.
Chris Williams, Davis district spokesman, said the district is following national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in not making plans to close schools because of the flu. The district's Web site, http://www.davis.k12.ut.us/, includes pages with information on seasonal and H1N1 flu.
"We are concerned every time a child comes to school sick," Williams said.
"We do everything we can that is necessary to get the message out to please keep sick children home. It would help if every parent could do that.
"Our schools aren't set up like a hospital with a place set aside for sick children to stay day after day. Home is better until they are healthy."
Hatch said those who have not been sick with H1N1 should get the vaccine as soon as possible and also get the seasonal flu vaccine when it is available again in November.