Flu outbreak closes NSA

Published 2:51 pm Friday, February 8, 2019

A flu outbreak at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy forced the school to close Friday and cancel school activities Friday and Saturday.

NSA said in a statement on its website that it had seen a spike in absences among students and staff, though the school was not able to provide a specific number.

Though those associated with the school have been encouraged to take preventive actions to stop the spread of germs, and though NSA’s housekeeping staff has been deep cleaning frequently touched surfaces, it has not stopped the spreading of the flu.

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NSA said it would reschedule any school activities that were slated for Friday or Saturday, though off-campus athletic events were still set to take place Saturday. The school in its statement cautioned parents to use their best judgment as to whether their child would be healthy enough to participate.

“Since not all cases are reported, we based our decision (to close school) on the growing number of student and faculty absences, particularly in the last 24 hours that had been attributed to influenza-like illnesses and confirmed cases of influenza,” school spokeswoman Karen Schompert said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control has designated Virginia’s flu activity level as widespread, including confirmed cases of the flu and flu-like illnesses. This has been the case for the past six weeks.

The Virginia Department of Health, in its most recent flu report for the week ending Feb. 2, said it had investigated nine flu outbreaks, but none of those were in VDH’s Eastern Region.

Amal Patel, an epidemiologist with the Suffolk Health Department, said he didn’t have specific information as it relates to Suffolk.

“Our area is in the high range of activity,” Patel said. “The state as a whole is reporting widespread activity.”

Suffolk Public Schools has not experienced a flu outbreak, according to spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw, but she said they have previously shared information from the CDC about flu prevention with staff, parents and the public.

“Student and staff absences this week are nothing out of the ordinary for this time of year,” Bradshaw said.

On Friday, the school division sent reminders to families via its automated messaging system — recorded phone message and email — offering reminders and tips to prevent the flu and what to do if their children experience flu-like symptoms.

Patel said people should avoid contact with their eyes, nose and mouth, and to deeply disinfect surfaces that are commonly touched. If someone gets the flu, they should stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever breaks without the use of any fever-reducing medication.

“It’s a basic message of public health we give every year — get the flu vaccine and avoid contact with sick people,” Patel said.