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How Catching The Flu Can Affect Your Child's Education
Updated: Tuesday, February 5 2013, 05:58 PM CST
The flu outbreak is not letting up in Central Texas. Scott and White said it's seeing a second round of flu cases and Dell Children's Medical Center said 120 patients tested positive for influenza last week.
But did you know catching the flu can affect your children's education?
One Central Texas school district said it's already losing hundreds of thousands of dollars due to a spike in absences.
Children crammed into the Marble Falls Elementary School clinic Tuesday afternoon, where every seat and every bed was already taken. For the past 12 weeks, School Nurse Melissa Hemond said this has been standard.
"It has been amazing how many kids come in," she said. "One day I saw 100 children in the clinic."
That's nearly a fifth of the students at the school. Hemond said most of them had flu symptoms. Marble Falls attributes a flu outbreak to a two percent drop in attendance district-wide over the last 12 weeks.
Since all Texas schools receive state funding based on attendance, MFISD estimates it has already lost nearly $350,000.
And if the trend continues?
"It would be detrimental," said MFISD Executive Director of Financial Services, Wade Stanford. "We prepare our budget numbers based on attendance. There's a tie to money each day a kid is here. We'll explore every option we can."
That includes filing for waivers at the state and federal level to get some of that money back. We checked with the Texas Education Agency and it said the absences at Marble Falls may not be extreme enough to qualify. Districts must show a ten percent dip in absences, compared to the year before, to receive additional money.
"We see the flu, but for this extended amount of time, it's a bit different," Stanford said.
MFISD said its top priority is getting kids well and back in the classroom. Only one other district in Texas has applied for a waiver because of major absences due to health; Mexia ISD, just outside of Waco.
Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Hays County, Lake Travis and Eanes school districts reported normal level of absences. Leander ISD told KEYE TV it had a spike, with 400 students absent last week.
By Katherine Stolp