School nurses prepare for a busy flu season

HCISD hangs signs and reminds students that washing hands helps prevent the flu. (KXAN Photo)

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) – As Texas students prepare to go back to school this week, teachers and staff are preparing for the sickness that could come with it. So far more than 4,000 people have had the flu in the state and the numbers are expected to rise in the coming weeks.

In Hays County alone, officials report 304 people have tested positive for the virus in the month of December. Last year, only 15 residents had the flu during the month of December.

Hays Consolidated Independent School District says it is preparing for students to return to class on Thursday. District leaders say they haven’t done a full wipe down of the classrooms because students haven’t been there for weeks, but all nurses in the district are meeting to discuss what to expect and how to educate students.

“If you see that you have an uptick in cases on your campuses, especially in certain classrooms or in general, make sure to contact me so that we can work with custodial services to deeper clean those rooms or campuses,” said HCISD director of student health Macie Walker to a room full of district nurses.

Walker says the district is working on different programs to educate students about germs and how long to wash their hands. She says there is even a group of high school health students who travel to different campuses to teach the younger students.

“The kids love them and they really pay attention to those kids, more so than if it were me going into the classroom and presenting,” said one of the nurses.

For those in middle school, she says they are doing interactive programs so they teach themselves. “We’re having a little healthy competition,” said Walker. “The students are competing amongst themselves for the best video about what are germs and how do we prevent germs.”

If cases continue to spike, Walker says the district will involve the health department to make sure everything is cleaned and help prevent the spread of the virus. In general, she says the best way to prevent spreading the flu is to keep your child at home if you believe they are sick.

“If your child has had a fever, then kids should stay home at least 24 hours before coming back to school,” said Walker.

If district leaders notice an increase in flu numbers on any campus or in a classroom, leaders say they can place disinfectant foggers in the school overnight to help get rid of germs.