As flu-related illnesses prompt the closure of schools in Atoka and Ardmore, Ada-area school officials say they are not seeing a dramatic increase in absences due to flu or flu-like illnesses.
Ada City Schools officials said Wednesday the district has implemented more stringent measures to combat the spread of illnesses among students and faculty this school year — measures district officials say seem to be working.
“At this moment, it’s not as bad as it was last year,” said Ada City Schools Nurse Alicia Cupps. “Right now we don’t see any of our schools closing for illnesses.”
Cupps said this year, school officials increased the time a student must remain fever-free before returning to school from 24 to 48 hours, giving students more time to rest and make sure they are no longer contagious before being allowed to return to school after an absence for flu-related illnesses.
The district has also implemented the use of disinfecting guns — non-aerosol spray devices similar to those used by exterminators — twice per week at campuses district-wide to kill germs and bacteria.
Cupps said school officials have also increased efforts to stay in touch with parents by sending regular reminders home with students, encouraging them to wash their hands and take precautions to prevent the spread of germs and illnesses.
“We’re checking attendance regularly and staying in touch with other area schools,” said Ada City Schools Superintendent Mike Anderson. “So far, we’re not seeing absences that would indicate an outbreak (of any kind).”
Officials at schools in Allen, Byng, Latta, Roff, Vanoss and Stonewall all reported similar circumstances. Though some districts reported seeing a slight increase in recent absences due to flu or flu-related illnesses, all reported overall absences to be within their expected norms.
Mercy Hospital Ada
Officials at Mercy Hospital Ada said Wednesday they are not planning to enact visitation restrictions similar to those enacted at the hospital’s sister facility in Ardmore.
“We have seen an increase in positive influenza tests through our emergency department and outpatient clinics over the past several weeks,” said Mercy Hospital Ada Infection Control Coordinator Lisa Brown. “At this time, we are not placing any restrictions on visitors coming into our facility. (However), we ask that you not visit patients if you are feeling ill, have the flu or have any symptoms of influenza.”
Brown said the hospital is closely monitoring flu cases in the Ada-area and would continue to be diligent in protecting already vulnerable patients from influenza.
By the numbers
According to Oklahoma State Department of Health records, 451 people have been hospitalized after testing positive for the flu since Sept. 1, 2018. The department has recorded 22 deaths from the flu in the same period.
OSDH records report eight influenza-associated hospitalizations in Pontotoc County during the same period, and one death in the southeast reporting region, which includes Pontotoc County.