Since Sept. 8 students have been allowed to use a signed note from a parent or guardian for any absences beyond five because of concerns over the novel influenza A H1N1 virus.
School officials had agreed to suspend the requirement through Oct. 30 but will stretch it until after the Thanksgiving break, said Dr. Carole Rountree, the director of Richmond County student services.
"The extension was a result of conversations with the health department and the fact that we are still having an increased number of students with flulike symptoms," Dr. Rountree said Monday in an e-mail. "Although it is not extreme, it shows that there is evidence of the presence of either seasonal or H1N1 flu."
Other factors that contributed to the extension: an insufficient supply of the seasonal flu vaccine; the unavailability of H1N1 vaccine until this week; tests verifying the H1N1 vaccine are expensive and not always administered by doctors; and parents are being told to have their child see a doctor only if the child has a high fever that doesn't respond to over-the-counter medicine.
According to school policy, notes are required when a student is out of school after five absences. The parental note must include the parent's signature, the child's name, when the child was absent and why, to include the child's specific symptoms.
Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or firstname.lastname@example.org.