Early Flu Outbreak Affects Area Schools

Lynchburg, VA - Many experts are saying our country is being hit with the earliest and fiercest outbreak of the flu virus in a decade.

Around the nation, schools are taking extra precautions.

Lynchburg City Schools say the flu has calmed down a little bit since kids returned from winter break, but they are still on high alert.

"We're seeing a pretty good increase since October," said Bedford Hills Elementary Schools Medical Assistant and EMT Gloria Dubose. "Runny nose, cough, fever, stomach ache, throwing up."

At Bedford Hills Elementary School, they have been lucky so far this flu season.

"A scale of one to ten?... A six," said Dubose.

Dubose says that accounts for 30 percent of the student body and staff.

"The year before last we had a really big spike. It was really bad. One day we sent 40 kids home," said Dubose.

Administrative Assistant Dani Rule says time off did the school well.

"I think the break hit us at the right time. Just so people could be away and kind of in secluded areas so they didn't pass it along," said Rule.

Lynchburg as a whole has seen a dramatic increase in excused absences.

From December 1, 2012 through January 4, 2013, they have had 5,332 absences. That is compared to 2,701 the year prior.

Although Bedford Hills has not seen a lot of cases just yet, the school is not getting lazy on precautions.

"Everything needs to be cleaned very thoroughly from us down to the custodial staff," said Dubose.

They have also sent home materials to parents and continue to stress the importance of cleanliness.

"We try to stress, 'wash your hands,'" said Dubose.

Campbell County says their district has seen a slight increase in absences but nothing out the ordinary. They say nothing significant so far.

It is early in the season, though, so we'll see how schools fare and keep you updated.