Originally created 12/16/06

Schools close after flu hits



LaFAYETTE, Ga. - Classes were canceled at Walker County schools Friday because of the number of children out sick with the flu and strep throat, but local officials said it's not so bad in the Augusta area.

Officials decided to close the northwest Georgia system's 15 schools after the district reported 1,200 students absent Thursday.

Even neighboring Floyd County and the city of Rome are reporting student absences well above average for this time of year.

"It looks like we have an early arrival," said Logan Boss, spokesman for the Northwest Georgia Public Health District. "Flu season doesn't usually peak in Georgia until late January, early February."

Things are not nearly so bad in Richmond County schools, Interim Superintendent James Thompson said Friday.

The same is true in Columbia County, although one school - Riverside Elementary - did report health problems this week.

Riverside Elementary absences jumped to about 70 pupils out sick earlier this week, Assistant Superintendent Sandra Carraway said Friday. Typically, the school has about 40 absences a day, she said.

In response to the absences, school officials sent letters home Wednesday to parents describing flu symptoms and announcing a flu shot clinic for pupils at the school, which was held Thursday.

Dr. Carraway did not know how many people participated.

Staff writers Donnie Fetter and Greg Gelpi contributed to this report.