Hundreds absent in Tipton County schools as flu spreads

BRIGHTON, Tenn. — Hundreds of Tipton County students were absent from school Friday due to an outbreak of the flu.

The school district says it's working hard to try to keep the flu from spreading.

Nine percent of students throughout the district's 15 schools were absent Friday, which is around 900 kids. That's more than double the number of absences compared to a normal day, and is up 2 percent from two days ago.

The district believes a majority are out sick, and said some areas are being hit harder than others — about 13 percent of students are reportedly absent in the Brighton area.

District officials say it's not just the flu they're battling. There's strep and a stomach virus going around as well.

"My son is out of school right now," one mother said. "I thought he had the flu. We just got tested and stuff. Negative."

Instead, she said, her son has strep. Now she's taking care of him while making sure the rest of her kids stay healthy.

Nationwide, more than 60 children have died from the flu. Doctors report this is the highest rate of flu-like illnesses since the swine flu pandemic in 2009.

Tipton County Schools' custodians are taking precautions like washing hands and using Lysol.

"We asked them to wipe down flat surfaces. Just really try to visualize whatever a child may touch and try to wipe that down."

That's in addition to their normal cleaning routine.

Doctors around Brighton said they were too swamped with flu patients to give an interview, but advised parents to keep their kids home when they're not feeling well.

Meanwhile, Tipton County schools says if the number of absent students doubles again, they may start talking about closing schools.