NEW HAMBURG -- A stomach bug has apparently bitten one Scott County school already this season.
When 48 of 112 students and several of the 15-member staff contracted the stomach virus at Kelso C-7 School in New Hamburg, superintendent David Newell made a subjective choice to use a "snow day" and close school Wednesday.
"It seemed like it all happened at once," Newell said Wednesday morning.
About six or seven students were absent when attendance was taken Tuesday morning, Newell recalled. Then about 8:30 a.m., some students started vomiting and by the end 16 or so had been sent home during the day, he said.
"Most of them were not running temperatures, but their stomachs were hurting and some of them were vomiting and others had diarrhea with it. A few have temps with it," Newell said.
After school and later that night Newell heard from more parents whose children were sick, including those who have children in both Kelso C-7 and Kelly High School, he said. He also heard from about five or six teachers who were ill.
"When you've got that many staff members out -- and only have 15 or so teachers, it can be difficult to get substitutes," Newell said. "And they are not really doing much educational work when they've got this many students out. We have so many emergency days a year, I thought it made more sense to use one."
Newell admitted even he felt a bit under the weather this week, and was feeling about 90 percent back to normal by Wednesday.
Kelly superintendent Don Moore noted while the flu hasn't really hit the school district, 10 students from the elementary were sent home Tuesday due to illnesses.
But Wednesday morning the buses were full, which is a good sign, Moore said, adding he will continue to monitor the situation at the different buildings. He just doesn't want a repeat of last year when in late winter the district shut down when attendance was near 80 percent.
"It hurts the district when average daily attendance is down because we get paid by the state based on our attendance," Moore said. "I think it was a wise investment to close school."
Oran R-3 superintendent Mitch Wood said the district hasn't any significant cases of illness.
There haven't been any problems with a virus or the flu at Sikeston R-6 either, noted district nurse coordinator Nikki Vaught. However, there are things parents can do to cut down on the risk of their child getting sick or spreading an illness in school, she said.
"Making sure everybody in the house covers their mouths when sneezing or coughing will also help keep illnesses from spreading," Vaught recommended. "And washing hands frequently also helps."
Getting flu shots can prevent getting the flu, but the shot only covers a certain strain of the flu, Vaught pointed out.
Typical flu-like symptoms include vomiting or diarrhea, sore muscles and a low-grade fever, Vaught said.
"If children have a temperature over 100 degrees, they should not be in school," Vaught said.
If they do contract a flu or virus, children need to get a lot of rest -- at least eight hours a day, Vaught said. The biggest thing is to keep the kids hydrated when they're sick to replace any fluids lost from vomiting or diarrhea, she noted.
Meanwhile, Newell decided to close school all day today since school was already scheduled to be out half a day due to parent-teacher conferences, which were also canceled and rescheduled for Nov. 9. Students were already off Friday, and now school will be closed Monday, too. Beyond that, Newell isn't sure.
"We're just going to take it day by day," Newell said.