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Absenteeism down this week in Willmar Schools

WILLMAR -- Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard says the Willmar Public Schools had about 360 students who were absent Friday, but he said that number is less than the number absent earlier in the week and he said there is no major flu outbreak in the school district.

An outbreak is defined as either absenteeism of 5 percent of more or the flu-derived absence of three or more children from the same classroom.

In an interview Friday afternoon, Kjergaard said he doesn't know if all absent students had the flu or if they were absent for other reasons.

"Our attendance was better today than it was earlier in the week. We have to notify (the Minnesota Department of Health) when we have more than 5 percent of our kids gone in the building. We did that earlier in the week,'' he said.

"We have kids that are out, and we have some kids who are out that we know have the flu and they have been out a little lon-ger than they have in the past. Instead of two or three days, they've been out for four to six days,'' he said.

"We're telling people not to send their kids to school until they don't have a fever and until they've been 24 hours without a fever. I think people are just being real careful about sending their kids back to school, which I appreciate,'' he said.

Kjeraard said there is no major flu epidemic in the Willmar schools.

"I'm not going to say on Monday we couldn't have a major flu epidemic,'' Kjergaard said. "But on Friday -- today -- we had more kids in school than we did on Monday: 360 out of 4,100 is between 8 and 9 percent. I don't consider it to be a major flu epidemic at all. I think it's just a normal Friday. And we do have kids with flu. But to me a flu outbreak would be 25 percent of the 4,100 kids gone.''

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150