MERIDEN — City officials issued a statement this week addressing questions they’ve received about a reported spike in absenteeism at Washington Middle School due to flu and other illnesses.
School Superintendent Mark Benigni said the district regularly tracks attendance and “we are up a few percentage points (Tuesday).”
“We work closely with the Health Department, which employs our school nurses, and they recommended that we disinfect all touch points this evening,” Benigni said. “Our custodial staff will be staying tonight to ensure that the recommended cleaning occurs.”
Associate Health Director Stephanie Denya said it’s “not uncommon to see a small spike in school absences,” during cold and flu season, which “ lasts well into late March.”
“We encourage children to stay home when they are sick, use proper hygiene, and to get the flu shot, if they have not received one yet,” Denya said in a statement.
The attendance rate at Washington Middle School this week fell about five to seven percentage points below the average, according to Miguel Cardona, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. The school has an average attendance rate of about 92 to 93 percent, Cardona said, and the rate fell to 88 percent, 87 percent, and 85 percent on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday respectively, he said.
Washington Middle School is a grade 6-8 school with an enrollment of about 800. An absenteeism increase of five percent would represent about 40 more students absent than the average.
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