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'Unusually large number of students' sick at Eugene elementary school

Several cases of Influenza B were identified among students in addition to other flu, cold and stomach bug-like illnesses

Posted: Dec 19, 2019 6:17 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- At Yujin Gakuen Elementary School, 19% of students were home sick on Thursday due to various illnesses, Eugene School District 4J officials said.

"There have been an unusually large number of students out sick, but no identified outbreak of a particular illness," said 4J spokesperson Kerry Delf.

Several cases of Influenza B were identified among students in addition to other flu, cold and stomach bug-like illnesses, she said.

Barbara McConnell's Yujin Gakuen student was home sick Thursday with a high fever and sore throat. When the school informed parents of the illnesses on Tuesday, she wondered why classes weren't being canceled. 

"I think they should close school until after the break and do a full sweep. Pencils, any place that a child has touched, should be wiped down," she said.

Officials said the district is working with Lane County Public Health, which they said hasn't recommended the school be closed. They said the CDC also does not recommend closing schools due to the spread of seasonal flu.

Chelsea Hardrath is a nurse who still decided to pull her kids from school.

"The risk was higher than the reward," she said. "My husband and I mutually agreed that it wasn't worth jeopardizing the kids."

According to the district, staff are doing extra cleaning, reviewing handwashing with students and proactively communicating with parents. Hardrath still wanted more details from the district.

"How do you protect those populations and make a good informed decision? You need more information," she said.

Officials said absences due to illness peaked on Tuesday. The district's winter break will begin after this Friday.

This is the fifth school district in the area that has experienced widespread illness at at least one of its schools in the past month. 

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