TIPTON - An influenza outbreak forced a Mid-Missouri school to close its doors Friday. St. Andrews Catholic School in Tipton was closed, after 30 students were home sick on Thursday. A janitor used hospitalized disinfectant on the day off to clean each of the kindergarten through 8th grade classrooms.
By the end of the day Wednesday, 15 students were absent, and at the end of the day Thursday, nearly 25 percent of the 120-student school were home sick.
St. Andrews Catholic School Principal Helen Franken said in her six years as principal, she has never seen the school close for health reasons. "It was not to the educational best of any of our children, to have only a few children in class and to have all that make-up work. We don't want them worrying about make-up work. We want them to get better," Franken said.
Franken also said since there have been no snow days, she's not worried about any repercussions of releasing students from school. "Our classes are small, and it is very challenging if you have a major portion of your class out due to illness, to actually have education," Franken said.
Stephanie Oldham has two sons enrolled in St. Andrews Catholic School, and said she appreciated the school closing, to prevent more people from getting sick.
Family Nurse Practitioner Chris Hurt, of St. Mary's Tipton Medical Center, said she didn't see anyone for the flu early in the week, just a couple on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, she was flooded with patients. "Most of the patients we saw had not had the flu shot," Hurt said.
Hurt said practitioners as Tipton Medical Center are working with the Missouri Health Department to use influenza test kits. The kits determine a patient's strain of influenza, such as H1N1, to determine if the current shot is actually fighting the flu. That way, Hurt explained, "If whatever we get is different, it will be reason to change the shot next year."
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