Kentucky River District Health Department official discusses school closings due to illness
Leslie County students got something of an extended holiday break when school officials announced Monday that classes were cancelled the rest of the week. Scott Lockard is the public health director for the Kentucky River District Health Department, which includes Leslie and six other counties.
“The Leslie County staff over there, they did a wonderful job, they looked at their absenteeism rate, and they had 73% of the student body and attendance, so 27% out and realized that was just way above the threshold there where they could, you know, effectively hold classes.”
Lockard said the state Cabinet for Health and Family Service’s website shows illnesses such as the flu, CSV and COVID-19 are trending upwards – and so are hospitalizations.
“We fully anticipated with the Thanksgiving holiday that people getting together, there's going to spread illness, you know, unfortunately, you know, it's great to see our relatives and family and friends. But if someone is sick in that bunch, then there's great opportunity to spread that virus to others and that's what we've seen.”
Lockard said schools are the biggest mass gatherings, and when a large percentage of students and staff are sick, canceling in-person classes is a wise decision for them and those around them. He said during the pandemic, when most people were masking up, respiratory illnesses fell dramatically. Public health officials still recommend frequent hand-washing, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, staying home when sick – and getting vaccinated.
“Get your flu shot, get your COVID vaccine your booster and talk to your medical provider to see if the RSV vaccine is appropriate for you given your health situation.”
Lockard said vaccines work – and are the best defense against respiratory viruses.
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