NOVA middle school in Olympia closed Friday because so many students and faculty were out sick, according to the Thurston County Health Department.
In addition to the flu, there are at least six other respiratory viruses making the rounds, said Dr. Rachel Wood, health officer for Thurston and Lewis counties.
On Monday, 23 NOVA students were ill, said Barbara Mitchell Hutton, head of school. Tuesday, 40 percent of students and 40 percent of faculty were sick, so she canceled school Wednesday, Hutton said. In the meantime, the school was disinfected. Thursday, 29 percent of the students were sick, some of them for the first time, Hutton said. So NOVA was closed again Friday. A total 108 students attend NOVA.
NOVA has had one confirmed case of influenza, one of pneumonia and one of strep, according to Hutton. Other people are reporting high temperature and nausea, Hutton said.
The school will be disinfected again, Hutton said, and all scheduled meetings and classes will resume, including an open house for prospective families, at 2 p.m. Sunday.
“The message is: It’s not too late to get your flu shot,” Wood said, adding that this year’s vaccination is a good match for the viruses that are showing up in positive flu tests.
“The end of January is not too late,” Wood said. “In many years, the flu peaks as late as April, sometimes early May.”
In the case of NOVA school, one student had a family member who tested positive for influenza, Wood said.
Absenteeism was below 10 percent at other South Sound schools, according to Wood and spokespeople from the Olympia, Tumwater and North Thurston districts.
Advice for avoiding the flu and other respiratory illnesses is simple, Wood said:
▪ Wash your hands.
▪ Cover your cough.
▪ Stay home if you’re sick, especially with fever, vomiting or diarrhea.