1,000 Students at Virginia High School Absent With Flu-Like Symptoms: Officials

1,000 Students at Virginia High School Absent With Flu-Like Symptoms: Officials
A file photo of an empty classroom at a high school. (Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Around 1,000 students at a Virginia high school were absent this week with flu-like symptoms, according to officials.

Stafford County Public Schools spokeswoman Sandra Osborn told The Washington Post on Oct. 21 that about 1,000 Stafford High School students were absent from class with “flu-like/gastrointestinal symptoms.” Stafford High has about 2,100 students.

“Our Health Services team is working with the local health department to identify the root cause of the illness,” she told other news outlets.

School activities through the weekend were canceled, said the Stafford High School website.
“Due to the high number of student and staff illnesses reported this week, all Stafford High School activities and athletics scheduled through Sunday, October 23, are canceled,” a message reads. “We will reassess conditions on Monday and provide you with further information.”

The Smoke Signal, a school newspaper, said that the cause of the incident was possibly an Oct. 15 homecoming dance attended by more than 1,200 students.

“We remain very concerned, and will continue to monitor the situation alerting you to any changes we may need to make to our operations,” a letter issued by the school’s principal said. “Our custodial staff will conduct an extensive and thorough wipe down of the entire school this evening. High-touch point area cleaning, along with electrostatic cleaning, will continue throughout the day and evening tomorrow.”
An increase in influenza activity has been reported in most of the United States, according to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Seasonal flu activity in the United States tends to increase in October and peaks in the winter months.

School districts elsewhere have reported an increase in flu-like symptoms. Two high schools in San Diego had significantly high absences this week.

One school spokesperson told CNN last week it had 1,000 absences out of 2,600 students.

“We can confirm that there is a high number of absences at Henry High School due to probable Influenza,” Samer Naji, a spokesperson for the San Diego Unified School District, told the network.

“So far COVID tests have been negative but several students have tested positive for flu,” Naji added. “Typical signs and symptoms include cough, sore throat, runny nose, fever, and other upper respiratory infection symptoms. We are in close contact with San Diego County Public Health.”

Christine Palk, a spokesperson for the nearby Del Norte High School in the Poway Unified School District, said that the school district “had nearly 400 students absent yesterday and Tuesday with cold and flu-like symptoms.”

“Health officials have told us that the cold/flu season is definitely here and it’s hitting schools harder now that COVID restrictions are no longer in place,” she said.

The Epoch Times has contacted the Stafford County Public Schools for additional comment.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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