WCSD Prepares for Influenza When Students Return

SPARKS, NV -- Winter break is coming to an end for students in Washoe County. In the heart of flu season, parents are taking extra precautions before sending their kids back to school on Monday, January 13.

Gregory Roberts, 7, has been cooped up inside his home for two months, playing video games, but it's not by choice.

"It has been a complete nightmare," mother Crystal Roberts said. "In October, we ended up in the hospital. We've just been going back and forth."

Her son has a rare immune deficiency that put him out of school due to the flu he caught at school.

"It feels very, very horrible," said Gregory. "My belly aches go to worse headaches. My headaches go to worse sore throats."

You don't need to be in direct contact with someone to catch the flu virus. It's airborne so you can be as little as six feet away to get infected.

"if (kids) have a fever or they're coughing or they're sick, Gregory catches it very easily," Roberts said. "A sinus infection or strep throat can put him in the hospital and kill him within minutes."

Cases like this make it dangerous to send sick children to school. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) is reporting more than 200 people in northern Nevada have influenza-like illnesses in the second week of January alone. Schools have become hyper-vigilant of those symptoms and are ready for students to return.

"We'll be reminding teachers about how to encourage kids of their hygiene and health habits, hand washing in particular, covering a cough or a sneeze, sending sick kids home," Dana Balchunas, director of WCSD Student Health Services, said.

All seven-year-old Gregory wants is to play outside with his friends again.

"His dad and I really want him to be a kid and we want him to just be able to experience what other kids have," said his mother. "We don't want him to be the bubble boy."

Roberts is expected to be able to go back to school on Monday, Jan. 13.

Immunize Nevada is partnering up with the Washoe County School District to offer a flu clinic Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Boys and Girls Club located at 2680 East 9th Street in Reno, from 4-7 p.m. Flu vaccines (both mist and shots) are available on a first come, first serve basis. A $20 donation is requested to cover the cost of the vaccine, however no one will be turned away due to inability to pay. No identification is required for a vaccine, however those with insurance should bring a copy of their cards.

Contact your child's school for a list of dates when vaccine clinics will be available there.


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