NEW INFORMATION: Another spike in absences as Neillsville schools deal with flu outbreak

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NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) – There’s another spike in absences in a school district that’s dealing with an outbreak of the flu, but administrators believe some could be the children of parents who aren’t taking chances.

Neillsville Superintendent John Gaier tells WEAU 13 News that 246 students were absent from school on Friday. He says some parents could just be trying to guard against the illness that’s affected so many students in the district this week. Gaier isn’t sure how many of absences those students account for. He says the weather isn’t likely a factor in the absences because he says the fog there isn’t dense today and he doesn’t think the roads are slippery.

NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) – An area school district that’s dealing with an outbreak of the flu still had about 185 students absent on Thursday.

Neillsville Superintendent John Gaier tells WEAU 13 News that there were a total of 204 students absent on Wednesday. He says staff at the schools are still doing a lot of sanitizing, and that families are getting better at looking for symptoms. He says they may be keeping more students home that would have usually been back at school.

On Wednesday, a school nurse told WEAU 13 News that there were nearly 180 students out sick on Wednesday, and between 160 and 180 were out sick on Monday and Tuesday.

Story from Wednesday:

NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Aliya Allen spent the day at home, resting and recouping, hoping to get rid of what are symptoms of an illness.

On Wednesday in Neillsville, she was one of 180 students that did the same.

"That's unbelievable to me, there is something major going around," said Linda Holzl, Aliya's mom.

She says if that number continues to grow, she will consider keeping her kids home.

"If it gets to the point where half of their class is already gone, I'm not gonna send them because I don't want them to get anything worse than what they have already had," she said.

The school is trying several strategies to keep kids from getting sick. That includes requiring students to wash or sanitize their hands before lunch. And four years ago, it put a rule in place asking kids to stay home from school another 24 hours after their symptoms subside.

"Unfortunately, this season the flu is very varialent, which means it is more severe," said Sheila Slenczka, the district nurse in Neillsville.

Slenczka says the flu season goes in cycles and every so often one is worse than the rest.

She says that is why it is important to get a flu shot now since she says it takes two weeks to get full immunity.

In the meantime, keep a bottle of hand sanitizer or soap nearby.

"Sanitizers are proven to be 98 to 99-percent effective in killing the flu virus," she added.

Liz Rinart says three kids were missing from her class on Wednesday. Her parents have been getting automated calls from the school, alerting them to the outbreak.

Her mom says she feels fine sending Liz and her siblings to school since they have had flu shots. But as the number of cases grows, so does the uncertainty.

"It made me realize what number do we have to go to before we close school and add an extra day at the end of the year," Rinart said.


NEILLSVILLE, Wis. (WEAU) – More than 170 students from a local school district were absent or sent home from school Wednesday, as administrators try to combat an outbreak of the respiratory and stomach flu.

Neillsville Superintendent John Gaier tells WEAU 13 News that some of the students were sick when they got to school. The district has called and emailed parents, and posted a message about the outbreak on the school district’s website. Parents are urged to keep their children home from school if they show respiratory flu symptoms like headache, sore throat with or without fever. The district also wants parents to keep their children home from school until they have gone a full 24 hours without vomiting, coming down with a fever, or having diarrhea without taking Tylenol, Advil, or Ibuprofen

Gaier says cleaning crews working a late shift at the schools are “doing a lot of sterilizing.” He says the district is doing the best that it can, but the outbreak has hit it hard.

Gaier says 1,000 students are enrolled in the Neillsville School District.
From the Neillsville School District website:

The district has been seeing rapidly increasing numbers of students ill with the respiratory flu or stomach flu as of today. Symptoms of the respiratory flu are headache, sore throat with or without fever. Students should stay home until they are free of vomiting, fever, or diarrhea for a full 24 hours without the aid of fever reducing medication such as tylenol, advil, or ibuprofen. Vaccination against the respiratory influenza is available through your doctor office, or Sniteman's pharmacy. Thank you

Sheila Slenczka
BSN, School Nurse

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