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'Have to ride this out': Illnesses continues to affect school attendance

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The Calgary Board of Education said Monday that more than 10,000 of its students were out of class with some sort of illness.

That’s equivalent to about eight percent.

Stephanie Van Lissum says her daughter, who is in Grade 7 at McKenzie Highlands School, contracted COVID-19 just a couple of weeks ago.

Although she is a stay-at-home mom, she says her daughter had to stay home for 10 days.

“It’s still tough,” she said.

“She got it and I knew I was going to get it. Sure enough, a week later, so I’m trying to take care of her as a single mom, and myself as well.”

But schools are seeing absences due to RSV, the flu, common cold and COVID-19.

Any school with more than a 10 per cent absentee rate must report it to Alberta Health Services for investigation.

Calgary Catholic School District says 26 of its schools are in outbreak, or 22 per cent.

Public health physician Dr. Jia Hu says keeping kids updated on vaccinations can drastically reduce any serious outcomes.

“Influenza right now is a straight line upwards, so growing quite quite quickly,” he said.

Hu adds that updated vaccinations and mask wearing will help reduce spread, but will be difficult to change the course of the triple threat of viruses ripping through schools.

“I don’t necessarily know if all these things will affect overall absenteeism rates,” he said.

“The vaccination will certainly prevent people form landing in hospitals which is the most important thing, but we will have to ride this out for a few more weeks for sure, months probably.”

For dad Billy Stewart, he says his family takes extra precautions from catching any sickness.

“We’re trying to very careful, I’m immuno-compromised,” he said.

“(My son) missed enough school, we don’t want him to miss anymore, and fall behind, anything like that.”

McKenzie Highlands School reported more than a 13 per cent absentee rate on Monday.

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