MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The flu season is hitting early, and hitting our local schools hard. So, school nurses are fighting back, teaching students how to stop the spread of germs and form healthy habits.
"Your child may get respiratory symptoms, may be coughing, achy all over, with a headache and a fever," says Brenda Mathis, R. N., a nurse with River Oaks Elementary.
These are all signs that your child may be getting the flu. But with the cooler season-change, many people are feeling under the weather. Nurses explain that having a fever is the number one symptom to look for.
"Monitor it at first, and if you find your child is running a fever more than 100 to 101 then you should contact your physician," explains Mathis.
The director of Health and Safety Services for Horry County Schools says pediatricians are reporting positive cases of the flu. Now schools are asking parents to help keep everyone healthy by keeping your kids home when they're sick.
"I know flu is serious, it can cause illness and death. I try to give my children their flu shots early in the year," says Trish Gibson-Grossmann, a parent with young children.
Mathis explains that it takes about two weeks for the shot to become effective, but there is still time to be vaccinated.
"We're teaching our students to cover their cough, and to keep washing those hands," says Mathis. She adds, "the best way to fight the flu is prevention."
Horry County schools ask that you don't bring your student back to school until they are fever-free, without medicine, for at least 24 hours.
"It's better to be healthy because you don't miss as many school days," says Kennedy Kimbell, a fourth grader at River Oaks Elementary. Kimbell says one of her friends was sick and had a lot of make-up work to catch up on.
"It's important for them to fee caught up with their school work because stress can reduce your immunity," explains Mathis.
Many schools will get your child's homework ready for pick up or send it home with a sibling.
"You need to wash your hands at least 20 seconds, you can sing the ABCs or another song," explains Kimbell.
The fourth grader says it is especially important to wash your hands now so that you're not sick when you are celebrating the holidays with your family.
"A lot of your family comes down, maybe from other states or other countries and you really need to keep them healthy, too," says Kimbell.
Nurses agree, saying the second wave of flu usually comes when children return to school after holiday break.
"We're constantly monitoring it, you do see it in waves," says Mathis.
Schools ask that you let them know when your child is sick. This way they can keep track of any illness in the building, and they can help you keep your student up to date with their assignments.