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Local school sees dozens of sick students as illnesses spread

Posted at 4:49 PM, Jan 24, 2017

An Oconomowoc school has seen such an increase in illnesses among its students, it sent a letter home to parents urging them to keep their sick kids at home.

More than 160 students stayed home from school on Friday at the Silver Lake Intermediate School - that's more than a fifth of the school's entire enrollment.

Officials with the Oconomowoc School District said this is the only school within the district seeing these elevated illness rates, but it's more than just one illness spreading among students.

The district says it has seen cases of the flu, strep throat, as well as a variety of other symptoms.

"We're kind of torn whether to send him or not," said Anne Seraphine, whose 6th grade son had Leukemia.

She says she received the letter at home last week, and then her elementary age child also got sick. Now she's worried about sending her older son to school.

"Last week is when he noticed that a lot of the students were gone," she said. "He is in the Silver Lake musical and they had cancelled it due to the illness."

According to the district, 164 students stayed home Friday, following almost 160 the day before.

While the numbers have gone down this week, they still had 64 students out sick on Tuesday.

"We're noticing more of an uptick on the upper respiratory virus at this time," said Dr. Nancy Healy-Haney, the public health manager for Waukesha County.

She says the county has been working with local schools as that virus and other illnesses spread.

"Parents need to be vigilant right now just to make sure the child is under supervision and if the child gets a temperature that's an indicator they really need to talk to their doctor," said Healy-Haney.

She also recommended that parents tell their children to wash their hands frequently at school and avoid touching surfaces.

"If the child frankly has a really bad cough, runny nose and they're just not feeling well, I think that's a pretty good indication that this is not the time to be putting the child in school," said Healy-Haney.

District officials can't say why Silver Lake alone is seeing an increase but noted that illnesses have been spreading around the community and that this is a common time for people to get sick.

Doctors are also warning that the peak of flu season is typically the beginning of February and that it's not too late to get a flu vaccine. 

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