Flu outbreak forces public schools shutdown in Kemper County

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DeKALB, Miss. (WTOK)- A recent spike in flu symptoms in the Kemper County School District has forced leadership to close down both the elementary and high school Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 11-12.

"Due to the high numbers of students that have not been in attendance at our elementary and high schools, as well as staff, we felt that it would be in the best interest of the district to close temporarily for a few a days to give them a chance to possibly go to the doctor and recover for those that actually have already been out," Superintendent Jackie Pollock.

There were more than 100 reported cases, counting students and staff, within the past couple of weeks.

"Currently at our elementary schools we have on average about 50 students that are out, and at our high school the number has been in excess of 60 to 70 students," said Pollock.

John C. Stennis Hospital in Kemper County has diagnosed a significant number of patients with flu or flu-like symptoms this month alone.

Residential Nurse Brenda White says parents of young children should be aware of these common symptoms.

"Fever, complaining of sore throat, cough, either runny or stuffy nose, just general not feeling well. And you can usually tell the difference in your child," said White.

The superintendent says she made a similar decision to shut down schools in 2015 due to an influenza outbreak.

"We did close temporarily for a day or two but we noticed it primarily at our elementary school, but this time it's widespread. Not only here in Kemper County but we've noticed it statewide that it seems that we have taken a great hit this time," said Pollock.

Washing your hands, using hand sanitizer and making sure you cover your mouth when you cough are helpful reminders to make sure you don't create the next patient.

"The best way to not spread it is, of course, if you are sick, just stay at home," said White.

Kemper County Schools will resume classes Wednesday at the normal times.

Two public school districts and one private school in northern Mississippi were also closed Friday because of an increase in flu cases.