Many stay home as 80 call in sick to St. Joseph’s School in Smithers

About 80 students and staff at St. Joseph's School in Smithers called in sick last week.

In a case of what goes around comes around, about 80 students and staff at St. Joseph’s School in Smithers were absent last week with a variety of ailments.

A team of public health nurses are currently assessing the symptoms, including tests, to determine if influenza or gastrointestinal flu are the cause of the ailments, spokesperson with Northern Health Jessica Quinn said.

Provincial regulation oblige schools to notify public health of absenteeism rates of 10 per cent or higher, Quinn said.

Although the peak absenteeism occurred Wednesday, St. Josephs principle, Susan Forbigger said many were staying home as a precaution.

That is good news to Northern Health who advise all those affected should stay home until they have been without symptoms for at least 48 hours, Quinn said.

In a school of 186 students, having 80 students and some staff stay home was a novel experience, Forbigger admitted.

“I’ve never seen it [absenteeism] this high before,” she said.

Results of the assessment and tests should be available early next week. In the meantime, Northern Health has sent parents a letter with information on proper infection control, including washing hands and keeping the child out of school until they have been asymptomatic for 48 hours.