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As attendance in the Owen County School district continues to drop due to various illnesses, Superintendent Mark Cleveland is looking for ways to keep the doors open.
Cleveland said the attendance rate stayed above 90 percent last week, but has dropped drastically this week with only 87 percent attendance Monday and 85 percent Tuesday.
Cleveland said although there have been several cases of the H1N1 virus in the district, other illnesses are more prominent.
“It’s not really so much the H1N1 virus as it is other things,” Cleveland said. “We’ve had the regular seasonal flu and stomach viruses.”
Cleveland said as of last week there were 10 to 12 cases of H1N1 in the district.
“(Health officials) are not really confirming cases anymore,” Cleveland said. “They’re just sending them home.”
Cleveland said a letter is being sent home this week along with a form from Three Rivers District Health Department Director of Public Health Georgia Heise.
The letter informs parents that if they sign the form their child will be vaccinated at school for the H1N1 virus.
Cleveland said depending on how many forms are returned, that is how many vaccinations will be ordered.
In a letter from Cleveland that will be sent home with students on Friday, it is made clear that closing the district for several days could be a possibility if the attendance rate continues to decline.
“Our attendance this week has been terrible. We do have multiple reports of Type “A” influenza (H1N1), but we also have many who are out due to sinus infections, bronchitis, strep throat, and stomach virus,” Cleveland said. “We are seriously considering closing school for a few days. However, if we do that, it is equally imperative that you, as parents, help us by limiting the contact that your child has with other children or our closing will not do any good.”
Cleveland said he encourages parents to read all letters concerning the issue closely.
“Parents need to make sure they read those letters carefully,” Cleveland said. “We’re going to try and give parents as much advance notification as we can. So my advice is, be ready, parents, and have a plan.”
Cleveland said the issue will continue to be monitored for the remainder of this week.
“We are watching this very, very closely and will continue to do so this week,” Cleveland said. “There are a lot of unanswered questions with the H1N1 virus and we need to be prepared for whatever.”