SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Schools are often the place where germs are spread easily from student to student and then, eventually home to you. That includes the flu virus.
And as if the cold weather hasn't created enough problems for kids, now we have to factor in the increase in flu cases.
"[I’m] trying to encourage students to throw away their Kleenexes," Kindergarten Teacher Tara Oltmanns said.
Oltmanns is not only teaching students the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, she's also coaching them on how to stay healthy.
"Make sure when they use restrooms, they take those times to wash their hands and use soap and water and scrub. We have a song we use in Kindergarten to teach them those steps," Oltmanns said.
"[We’ve] definitely hearing a lot about the stomach flu. We have heard about influenza out there," Sioux Falls Public Schools Health Services Supervisor Molly Satter said.
Satter says ways staff try to stop the spread of the flu include cleaning all surfaces with hospital-grade disinfectants and educating parents about the signs and symptoms of the illness. School officials also ask that students to stay home as long as they're infected.
"They can return to school once they've been fever-free for 24 hours without any fever-reducing medication," Satter said.
Another precaution many students and staff have taken is getting a flu shot. Around half of the staff at Sioux Falls Public Schools have gotten their flu shot.
Oltmanns is one of the teachers who got a shot because she's learned a lesson or two about how easily young kids can spread germs.
"They can get spread easily as the kids are younger too and maybe less immune. If they're taught the skills to keep each other healthy, they do a great job at it," Oltmanns said.
Satter says another misconception some parents and students have is that the flu is the same thing as the stomach flu.
The flu, also known as influenza, often causes high fevers, body aches and a dry cough, not vomiting and diarrhea.
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