breaking news

Clark County students might return to schools in wake of ECOT closure

Flu surge closes schools, fills hospital beds

‘We’re still on an upswing,’ local doctor says.


A surge of flu-like illness in the region had led to an increase in hospitalizations and resulted in some schools having to close their doors because of the number of students who are sick.

All Milton-Union schools were closed Friday, a day after 250 students were out sick Thursday. The district has fewer than 1,500 students.

“We encourage and expect meaningful work … but we had classrooms where they were missing so many students that it was difficult to move ahead,” Superintendent Brad Ritchey said. “We felt this was the best opportunity for the kids to have a chance to rest up, get healthy over the weekend and come back Monday ready to go.”

RELATED: Illness closes local Catholic school for two days

Dr. Sherman Alter, director of infectious diseases at Dayton Children’s Hospital, said flu season is still on the upswing locally fairly late in the season, alongside many cases of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

“Using hospitalizations as a measure of how ill you are, it’s a pretty bad season for flu,” Alter said.

Montgomery County ranks 14th of Ohio’s 88 counties for the rate of flu-related hospitalizations since October, according to the state’s disease reporting system. All but one of the other high-ranked counties are in northern and eastern Ohio. Montgomery County has had more people hospitalized (144) than in much-larger Hamilton (69) and Franklin counties (127).

Of other area counties, Clark ranked 33rd, Miami 37th, Butler 49th and Champaign 52nd. Warren County was toward the bottom of the list with about 7 hospitalizations per 100,000 population.

“What concerns me is that we’re still on an upswing,” Alter said. “It’s hard to predict, but I think we could see more. I think the school closings indicate how bad it is. … RSV and influenza can easily be spread, especially in close contact at schools, where the kids are all together.”

Milton-Union staff did a “once-a-year-level” deep-cleaning work at all schools Friday, said Ritchey. He said weekend sports and other events at the schools will go on, since the buildings will have been thoroughly sanitized.

Milton-Union parents were on social media Friday discussing how sickness has been making the rounds of the community. Dawn Moore, whose son attends school in the district, said she’s heard of many kids with headaches and stomach problems.

“I don’t remember ever — and I went to school here — school being closed for sickness,” Moore said. “I just want to make sure they all get healthy. We all need our education.”

RELATED: Three Ohio children die from flu in two-week span

Milton-Union is not the only school affected by the surge in illnesses. St. Helen School in Riverside closed both Thursday and Friday “due to the large number of students and staff who are ill,” said Principal Christine Buschur. On Feb. 3, the Miami Valley Academies charter school closed due to illness.

The Ohio Department of Health reports there were 2,075 total flu-associated hospitalizations in Ohio from Oct. 2 through Feb. 4, including three child flu-related deaths. All three deaths were northern Ohio children ages 6 and 7.

Flu season generally continues until May, and it appears to be spiking comparatively late this year. Last flu season, Ohio had 3,633 total flu-associated hospitalizations, with one pediatric death. Two years ago, the numbers were 9,374 hospitalizations and six pediatric deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said flu activity increased nationwide last week and is now “widespread” in 43 states. There have been 20 flu-related child deaths nationally this season. Multiple schools in Tennessee, plus a few in Kentucky and Texas, have closed due to illness in recent days.

Dayton Children’s spokeswoman Stacy Porter said the hospital had 148 admitted patients Friday, nearing their capacity of 155 beds. On Thursday, there were 322 emergency department visits for all causes, which Alter called “a big number.”

RELATED: Flu cases in Ohio were down a year ago

Staff Writer Randy Tucker contributed to this report.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in News

Florida man dead after diving in underwater caves
Florida man dead after diving in underwater caves

A 50-year-old Florida man is dead after cave diving in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park this weekend, officials said. Davin Brannon, 53, of Dover, was diving in the Eagle’s Nest cave around noon Saturday when Hernando County Sheriff officials were called about a diver in distress. By the time crews arrived at the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management...
Pope Francis jokes with cloistered nuns in Peru
Pope Francis jokes with cloistered nuns in Peru

Pope Francis drew appreciative laughter Sunday when he addressed cloistered nuns in a Peruvian church, Reuters reported. The nuns were given special permission to leave their convents to see the pontiff speak in Lima. Francis spoke to the 500 nuns, known as “contemplatives” because they rarely venture away from their convents, on his...
Clark County students might return to schools in wake of ECOT closure
Clark County students might return to schools in wake of ECOT closure

About 150 students in Clark County will need a new school after one of the largest online schools shut down on Friday. The Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow is being closed effective immediately by its sponsor, according to Ohio Department of Education officials. “The Ohio Department of Education was informed this evening that the ESC of Lake...
Two coal train cars carrying 200,000 pounds of raw steel derails in Clark County
Two coal train cars carrying 200,000 pounds of raw steel derails in Clark County

Upper Valley Pike outside of Tremont City Road is blocked after two coal train cars carrying 200,000 pounds of raw steel derailed and landed on their side. The incident occurred before 2 p.m. Sunday at the 5100 block of Upper Valley Pike at the cross of Tremont City Road and St. Paris, according to German Twp. dispatch. German Twp. police are on the...
Toddler at center of Texas Amber Alert found by police, is safe
Toddler at center of Texas Amber Alert found by police, is safe

UPDATE, 1/21/2018, 1:56 P.M.: Texas police said the 18-month-old boy at the center of an Amber Alert was found safe northeast of his San Antonio home, around noon Sunday, KENS reported. The boy's father and suspect was found "in grave condition" due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound, police told KENS. The toddler, Aaron Joseph Concepcion...
More Stories