A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

School districts across Kentucky closed because of flu; everyone over six months should get flu shot

At least 24 school districts in Kentucky are closed or are using non-traditional instruction (NTI) days due to illness, according to the Kentucky School Boards Association’s Twitter feed.

Commissioner of Education Jason Glass said, “I know (schools) are struggling with higher-than-normal absentee rates among students, educators and staff due to a variety of illnesses, such as both flu and COVID-19.

“I know you will continue to monitor this in your community and do what is best for your students and staff. As a reminder, districts have 10 NTI days they can use each year for occasions such as high absences due to illness. I know in-person instruction is best for most of our students, but there are times when we cannot help having to close due to illness.”

Fayette County’s schools were among those closed, and the county health department announced it would be offering an increased number of flu vaccine appointments for children on Nov. 9.

Glass reminded families and staff that flu and COVID vaccines are still available widely across Kentucky. Getting these vaccines, encouraging people to stay home when they’re sick and encouraging thorough and frequent handwashing are good ways to keep these illnesses from spreading further.

“The last two years have stressed our students, our families, our staffs and ourselves,” Glass said. “None of us walked out of the COVID pandemic unaffected. And beyond COVID, in the past year, Kentuckians also have experienced the trauma of severe tornadoes in Western Kentucky and flooding in Eastern Kentucky. In both of those instances, we worked with the state Crisis Counseling Program and Disaster Case Management Team, our affected superintendents, the Department for Behavioral Health Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, crisis responders, and more to focus on ensuring that each community’s basic needs and social-emotional needs were being met before ever even mentioning getting back to academics. We knew it would take relationships, empathy and systems of support to get people back on their feet and that’s where we focused our energy.”

The Northern Kentucky Health Department monitors flu cases from October to May each year. Here are the stats for the most recent week ending November 5:

The Health Department urges all those over age six months to get a flu vaccine. To fina a flu shot near you, click here.

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