A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky schools struggling against widespread respiratory illnesses; how to prevent the spread

A “perfect storm” of respiratory illnesses is currently wreaking havoc on Kentucky schools and threatening to overwhelm the pediatric care system.

Currently, at least 25 school districts have faced a temporary shutdown or nontraditional instruction day so far in November. That’s a stunning number considering November just started last week.

Meanwhile, CHFS reports nearly all staffed pediatric ICU beds in the state are full. With infections continuing to increase, parents must do everything they can to prevent the spread of illness.

Currently COVID cases remain steady across the Commonwealth, but that relative success has been offset by a rise in flu, strep, pneumonia, bronchitis, and bronchiolitis like the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Such outbreaks have been limited in recent years due in part to COVID-19 prevention measures like masks and social distancing. Unfortunately easing those restrictions and letting our guard down in the absence of a COVID surge has paved the way for other pathogens to return with a vengeance, says Kentucky Voices for Health.
Kentucky’s Department of Public Health is attempting to combat further school closures by encouraging parents to follow some simple preventative steps.

• First, if you or your child feel ill… stay home.

• Second, return to prioritizing handwashing and sanitation. This was drilled into kids back in 2020, but it may be time for a refresher. The same goes for teaching children not to use their hands when they sneeze or cough.

• Third, the most important step you can take to protect your family from serious illness is getting vaccinated. Everyone six months and older is eligible for the flu and COVID vaccines. Both vaccines can be given at the same time.

The cold weather season has barely begun, says KVH, so “all of us have to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones if we’re going to prevent a winter of sickness and school closings for Kentucky’s kids.”

Kentucky Voices for Health 

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