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Absence rates rising at BEA

By Staff | Nov 14, 2009

The H1N1 flu has had a real impact on student absences at Blue Earth Area Schools, according to a report at last Monday’s school board meeting.

The good news, however, is that the flu rate at the local schools seems to have peaked, and is on the decline.

Superintendent Dale Brandsoy says the number of absences system-wide has stayed below five-percent so far this year.

“If it goes over that five-percent threshold, we are required to make a report to the state,” Brandsoy says. “It has not gotten that high yet.”

Currently the level is at one-percent, he told the school board.

However, Brandsoy says the school has had to make two reports to the state, because of another reason.

“If more than three students in one elementary class are absent, we have to report that fact to the state,” he says. It happened on both Oct. 8 and 26 at BEA Elementary.

High School Principal Jack Eustice had a more detailed report on absenteeism for the board.

Eustice says that in the first 40 days of school last year, there were 247 days of student absences in the high school. This year, that number has risen to 613 days.

Those numbers translate to an average of 6.1 absences per day in 2008 and 15.3 absences per day in 2009.

“We feel most of these are related to influenza-type illness,” Eustice says. “We also feel it (absentee rate) has peaked and is going down.”

Last week there was an average of 13 absences each day. The week before there had been 24 as an average per day, Eustice noted.

The principal also explained how the flu is causing concerns with the student attendance policy, which only allows up to five absences in a quarter.

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.