HANCOCK -- Hancock Central School will be opened today even though only 40 percent of its students made it through the school day on Thursday.
Principal Jeanne Filiault said Thursday that they had to send 10 students home who had fevers, and that left 20 of the school's 50 students to finish the school day.
The school had been closed Tuesday and Wednesday after 25, or 64 percent, of the school's 39 students were out sick on Monday, and another five or six children were sent home sick after coming to school that day.
While about 50 students attend the preschool through sixth-grade elementary school, the population varies during the week depending on the number of children attending preschool each day.
Three of the school's five teachers, as well as the school nurse, also have been sick.
Filiault said two of the three teachers, and the school nurse, were able to return to school on Thursday, but the school's part-time music teacher is now sick.
"We'll get through it, but it just keeps going," Filiault said.
The illness, which school officials have begun referring to as the flu, began wreaking havoc on the small, rural school late last week.
School Nurse Joan Lennon sent a letter home parents on Thursday asking them to be extra cautious during this time, and that "any child who has a temperature of at least 99 [degrees Fahrenheit] needs to remain home until they have a temperature below 99.
A fever is one of the symptoms that has been associated with the illness.
Lennon also advised parents that if their children have fevers, not to give them Tylenol before sending them to school.
"[T]his will only temporarily reduce the fever, and if they are developing an infection, it will delay the necessary treatment, Lennon said in the letter.
Dr. Beth Ellingwood, who is with Northern Berkshire Pediatrics, said they've been seeing a lot of cases of influenza and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) recently, which is normal for this time of the year.
"We're seeing them at both our North Adams and Adams offices," she said.
Both illnesses have fevers as a symptom, but RSV is more commonly associated with wheezing, while high fever above 101 degrees Fahrenheit and body aches are more common with influenza, she said.
She said some things children can do to stay healthy include washing their hands, getting plenty of rest and drinking lots of fluids.
In a Transcript article published Thursday, Filiault said students and staff have experienced variations of symptoms that include high fevers ranging from 101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, earaches, neck aches, congestion and persistent coughing.
The illness lasts about five days, she said.
William Ballen, superintendent of Shaker Mountain School Union, which includes Hancock, said he understands how much of an inconvenience the illness has been for parents.
"The only way for us to get completely finished with this is for students who are sick to stay home, lay low, and let this flu take its natural progression," he said.
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