Almost 70 students at the Cowichan Valley’s Alex Aitken Elementary School, more than a quarter of the school’s student enrolment of 240, were home sick on Feb. 13.
While the number of sick kids at the school might seem high, authorities are advising that it’s just the result of the usual maladies at this time of year and not in any way related to the coronavirus, which has seen thousands afflicted in an outbreak that has spread around the globe.
The school sent a letter to parents and caregivers asking that they keep their children at home if they are not well, and recommends tips on how to avoid getting sick.
The letter acknowledges that the school is currently experiencing higher than average illness rates among students, and that the school sent the letter in the hope of allowing parents to be more informed of what was going on, to give them tools to help keep everyone healthy, and discuss what they’re doing in-school to help.
“While there is no link into any specific illness, we are in the height of cold and flu season and those effects are being felt here,” the letter said.
“The best way to help combat these illnesses is to increase the good hygiene practices we advocate for in school. They include staying at home and rest, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, cover your mouth with your elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze, and regularly clean and disinfect touched surfaces.”
The letter said that, as a school community, authorities at Alex Aitken Elementary School are taking extra steps in the building to slow and stop any transfer of illness from surfaces.
“Please help us curb the spread of this illness and do your part to help,” the letter concluded.
Mike Russell, communications director with the Cowichan Valley school district, said the other 28 schools in the district are currently reporting an average amount of sick students for this time of the year.
“There’s nothing out of the ordinary as far as I know,” he said.