Region weathers school flu storm

Callum HunterSouth Western Times
South West schools have done well so far this flu season.
Camera IconSouth West schools have done well so far this flu season. Credit: Getty Images/Image Source

As schools across the State are gripped by an unprecedented early start to the flu season, South West schools have remained relatively untouched.

Local principals revealed this week that despite the more than 500 per cent Statewide increase in child flu cases for this time of year, their schools’ absentee rates had remained steady and consistent with previous years.

“Earlier in the term we certainly had a larger number of children who were away, but having said larger, it doesn’t seem any more than other years,” Eaton Primary School associate principal Natalie Cook said.

“Speaking very generally, our attendance is actually up this year compared to the same time last year, which is fantastic.”

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Grace Christian School principal Hugo de Ridder said there had not been a significant increase in absentees, although he had noticed the season arrived earlier than usual, an observation shared by Maidens Park Primary School principal Helen Foan.

Not all schools have been so lucky though, with St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School one of the unlucky ones which did not manage to escape the flu, with teachers also in the firing line.

“The flu absentee rate is probably a little bit higher than it has been in the past because people don’t seem to have been able to recover as easily as in previous years,” assistant principal Jane Olsen said.

“It tends to go in groups, so a wave will go through a class, then be passed on to siblings and go through another class and start to affect the teachers.”

South West population health revealed earlier this week that there had been more than 200 laboratory proven cases of the flu in April and May.

Though most schools have seemingly managed to avoid the brunt of this year’s early flu season, parents have been doing their bit to ensure the sickness does not spread.

“Most parents have been good,” Bunbury Baptist College principal Alison Burnley said.

“We let them know to keep the kids at home if they’re unwell,” she said.

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