By Michelle Fisher


GARDNER (CBS) – Peak flu season may be over, but doctors with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health are warning that a decrease in cases, doesn’t mean there is no threat of contracting the virus.

That’s something students, parents, and teachers at Gardner Middle School are dealing with first hand.

Wednesday morning drop off was less busy than it might be normally, after a flu outbreak has kept students out of class at the school.

“My daughter said 15 percent of her school Monday, was out,” parent Hannah Kelly said after dropping her two students off.

The Gardner Public Schools superintendent, Mark J. Pellegrino, said in an online statement Tuesday night, that the school has seen a spike in absences and has five confirmed flu cases.

Asvaldo Rodriguez’s fifth-grade son was one of those children. He’s back at school now, but was so sick just a few days ago that he was taken to the emergency room with a fever over 104.

“It was very concerning, we thought we were all going to get it,” said Rodriguez. “He was pretty bad.”

“We are taking precautions by cleaning the building and wiping down frequent-contact items like, chairs, desks, and door knobs,” Pellegrino wrote to parents in a Facebook post. “Additionally, students are being reminded to wash their hands frequently.”

“I’m glad that they’re contacting everybody, and letting everybody know what’s going on,” said Kelly.

This comes as a fourth Massachusetts child, this season, has died of complications from the flu.

“The Massachusetts Department of Public Health today confirmed the fourth flu-associated pediatric death of the flu season – a teenage boy from Middlesex County,” the agency wrote in a press release.

“You’re either going to get it or you’re not. Hope for the best,” said Gardner parent Lindsey Arnold.

The Dept. of Public Health also says people should still be vigilant when it comes to hand washing and getting vaccines that could stop the spread of the virus.

“Parents if your kids are sick you’ve got to keep them home,” adds Kelly. “Don’t bring your kid around everyone else. It’s not fair.”

Michelle Fisher

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