LOUISVILLE, Ky. — So far this month, more than 50 schools have closed in Kentucky and 186,500 students have been impacted by illness, according to the Kentucky School Boards Association.
“This is different from a snow day. Sometimes you can see a snow day coming and anticipate a possible closure, but today was tough for our families and we know that which is why we wanted to make a decision and communicate that early yesterday afternoon,” Dr. Jesse Bacon, superintendent for Bullitt County Public Schools, said.
It's a message that has become pretty repetitive within Kentucky Schools this week. At the time of this article publishing, at least 58 schools have closed or used NTI days from Nov. 3-22 because of illness.
“So 192 staff members were out yesterday with only about a 53% fill rate for substitutes and that just puts a lot of strain on our folks that are available to come,” Bacon said.
Bullitt County Public Schools is planning to use the closure along with the rest of Thanksgiving break to clean and sanitize their buildings and classrooms.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Rachel Alexander with Norton Healthcare said flu numbers are higher now, earlier in the season, than in years past.
“For Norton, we're definitely seeing an increase in flu cases over the past five weeks,” said Alexander, who is also manager of telehealth for Norton Healthcare. “We've got from a 2% positivity rate to about a 50% positivity rate for the system. So that's a pretty significant increase.”
Alexander added flu cases usually rise throughout December and early January, but due to masking during COVID, it prevented a severe flu season.
“But this year, I think we're all around each other again, we're not masking, there's lots of exposure, so I think that's part of the earlier season,” Alexander said.
So if you are experiencing symptoms of flu such as fever, headache, body aches, cough or even a sore throat, when do you know if you should get tested?
“Testing is recommended if you're in those high-risk groups, that would be the very young, the very old, or older patients,” Alexander said. “If you have any health problems, asthma, heart disease, lung disease, if you're pregnant, those would be higher risk patients that we would encourage to be tested because there are treatment options out there for flu.”
If you don’t meet that high-risk category, Norton Healthcare said it’s OK to not get tested, just isolate and stay home until you’re fever free for 24 hours.