Strawberry Park absences remain flat |

Strawberry Park absences remain flat

20 percent of students out Tuesday after similar number Monday

Jack Weinstein

— Only one more student was absent Tuesday from Strawberry Park Elementary School after Monday’s surge from last week, bringing the absentee number to 97.

The number represents nearly 20 percent of the student body. It follows last week’s high absentee rate at Steamboat Springs Middle School, when more than 100 students missed school three days in a row. The high came Sept. 29, when 151 students were out, representing 30 percent of the student body.

District officials have said they don’t think the illnesses keeping students home sick is the beginning of a swine flu outbreak. Students have missed school with a variety of illnesses, they said.

“We’re seeing not as much influenza-like symptoms as we’re seeing some of the others – strep throat, stomach bugs and just general head colds,” said Dot Haberlan, of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association. “We’ll see where that leads us this week.”

When asked whether she expected things to get worse, with the absentee numbers far lower at the middle school, Soda Creek Elementary School and Steamboat Springs High School, Haberlan, who oversees health services for the Routt County schools, said she thought the district was in a lull.

“I think we’re just in between waves, to be honest with you,” she said. Haberlan said the flu season is just getting started as the weather changes. She expects illnesses to increase in November.

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The middle school’s absentee rate was nearly cut in half Tuesday to 24, compared with Monday, when 46 were out. Sixty students stayed home from Soda Creek on Monday, and that number fell Tuesday to 36, or nearly 8 percent. The high school again had 17 students, or nearly 3 percent, absent Tuesday.

Haberlan has said typical absentee rates for each building for this time of year are between 5 and 10 percent.

Only four of the district’s more than 300 faculty members were home sick Tuesday, she said.

The district continues to tell students to wash their hands frequently, use hand sanitizer and tell a staff member immediately if they feel ill. Parents are urged to keep their children home at least 24 hours after their fevers are gone.

– To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail

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