Experts warn of severe flu season as Central Texas school district is forced to shut down

Published: Apr. 1, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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MART, Texas (KWTX) - Experts warn this year’s flu season is proving more intense than in recent years and the spike in flu cases has already shut down a Central Texas school district.

The Mart Independent School District canceled classes on Thursday and Friday after it experienced an outbreak of flu cases across multiple campuses.

“We were down 10 staff members at the elementary, two staff members at the high school,” said Mart ISD Superintendent Betsy Burnett, “We had 55 of 200 kids absent at the elementary on Wednesday.”

Burnett said the unavailability of staff members caused by the flu is what caused the district to shut down.

Health experts say the flu outbreak is ripping across the country, partly, because COVID-19 is less of a concern for people.

“In comparison with the last flu season, it’s quite a contrast because, with the COVID precautions that were being taken, I believe we didn’t have the flu,” said Dr. Lance Kunz, a pediatrician at Baylor Scott and White. “But now we have the flu back and it’s back in force.”

CDC Flu statistics
CDC Flu statistics(Courtesy Photo)

The CDC estimates that there have been between 3. 5 million and 5.8 million flu cases nationwide between October 2021 and March 26, 2022. Experts also say the flu season, which usually ends in February, is lasting even longer.

“This is one of the latest times that I’ve seen in my memory,” Dr. Kunz said.

For a school district like mart dealing with the flu surge they say the COVID years have prepared them to mitigate the spread of another deadly contagious virus-- the flu.

“While we are trying to mitigate the spread by shutting down and keeping it from being contagious, we also have more sanitizing wipes, more sprays and filter systems so there’s not as much fear about spread in the classroom as there was pre-COVID,” Burnett said.

Mart ISD students and staff will return to school on Monday with everything as normal. Meanwhile doctors are urging that people get their flu vaccines. They say even this late in the flu season it could make the difference between a slight illness and hospitalization.

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