Polk County Students Experiencing More Absences Due to Illness This Year


Flu shot (WHO-HD)

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DES MOINES, Iowa – More Polk County students are out of school this year due to an illness.

According to the Polk County Health Department, there are three schools reporting more than 10 percent of its students out due to an illness in January. Last year, no schools reported more than 10 percent of its students out sick in January.

Iowa Department of Public Health said influenza is widespread in the state, with 17 schools reporting more than 10 percent of its students out due to an illness.

Des Moines Public Schools Health Services Supervisor Diane Gladson said when a student goes to the nurses office the nurse will look for various signs.

“There’s certain things that children do deed to leave the building right then. Like, if they would have a fever of 101, they’re vomiting that type of thing. Other times we will just talk to the parent and see what they are thinking and what the nurse is thinking. We may have them rest for a little bit [and] return to class. We may call the parent later in the day if things don’t improve. So, it really is case specific. Every student is a little bit different,” Gladson said.

Symptoms of the flu include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headaches and body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Children may also experience vomiting and diarrhea

“It’s a big decision in the morning. You are looking at that child and you always want to have a back-up program. So that, if your child isn’t able to attend school and maybe you could still go to work. We’ll work with families on that. We do need to send children home when they are ill, but we certainly are trying to help families solve that problem,” Gladson said.

Gladson said DMPS will wipe all surfaces, desks, door knobs, railings and other common areas down to make sure germs do not spread.

There is not a DMPS currently seeing more than 10 percent of its students out due to an illness.


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