Too sick for school: Students missing class in unprecedented numbers

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Winter break might be right around the corner, but area schools are already looking pretty empty.

Students are staying home, sick, in unprecedented numbers.

While it is cold and flu season, parents and administrators say they’ve never seen so many absences before.

Grace McDaniel has a son at Shades Cahaba Elementary School, and another son attending Homewood Middle School. She said a lot of students have been absent from both schools.

Her eldest son told her so many of his classmates were out, his after school activities were canceled.

“I wonder if report cards are going to go home with incompletes, and just some extra stress it’s going to cause on students that are sick,” McDaniel said.

Homewood is not the only city battling a bug in its schools.

“‘Flu-mageddon,’ like ‘snow-mageddon,’ has been a new challenge we are facing,” said Bumpus Middle School principal Tamala Maddox in a message to families.

On Tuesday, approximately one in five students was absent.

“We’ve had a spike in cases, and we’re tracking it,” said Jason Gaston, a spokesman for Hoover City Schools.

According to Maddox’s message, Bumpus students will be allowed to opt out of final exams, as some may have missed critical review sessions or feel too ill to take the tests.

“I think this is the threshold,” Gaston said. “You’ve got to start making special accommodations in realizing that things are disrupted, and you’ve got to go to plan B.”

Gaston said parents should keep children home if they’re feeling sick, especially if they have a fever.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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