The heaviest concentration of school absences due to the H1N1 virus has been in southeast Alabama, according to the Alabama State Superintendent of Education.
Six of the top 10 school absenteeism rates are right in the Wiregrass.
According to the report, Barbour County Schools had the highest absentee rate in the state.
With more than 1,100 students in four schools, school officials say it's important to keep kids learning, but they also are responsible for their health and safety.
“The safety of our children is extremely important but also having them in school for the instructional program is important too,” says Barbour County Schools Superintendent Gary Quick.
Quick says the H1N1 flu virus is keeping his students out of the classroom.
“This time of year our attendance rates usually run about 96 to 97 percent and we're running somewhat less than that right now,” says Quick.
According to Alabama state superintendent of education Joe Morton, Barbour county schools have the highest rate the absenteeism.
The report says on average, almost 15% percent of students were absent between august 19 and 25.
Dale county schools are third and Houston County- fourth.
Rounding out the top ten: Geneva County has the sixth highest, Opp is 7th, and Elba is 9th.
“We’ve seen an increase in absentees, not a whole lot, but we can tell,” says Barbour County High School Principal David Hobdy.
Hobdy says there are 327 students enrolled at the school.
He says this time last year, on average 6 students a day would call in sick.
This year, he says that number has more than doubled to 15 students.
“Our instruction to them if they have a fever, make sure they are fever free for 24 hours,” says Hobdy.
Superintendent Quick believes the increase in absences from last year can be attributed to this new flu virus.
“For example, in my high school my numbers are 2.27 percent lower than they were last year. that's my assumption that these absentees are related to the flu,” says Quick.
Superintendent quick says in the first 14 days of class, his school system's attendance rate was down across the board a little more than 3 and a half percent.
Most of the absences in Barbour County are coming from the middle and primary schools.
Quick adds his school system's goal is to have a 96-percent attendance rate for the entire year.
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