Skyrocketing Flu Rates are Dropping Summit Students’ Grades

The increase of Flu A in high schools

The flu outbreak has spread drastically through Summit as the end of 2022 approaches. The Oregon Health Authority claims that students in Bend are being exposed to the virus at a higher rate this year. The symptoms are more intense this go round—causing trouble with the school year grades. This year flu rates have increased in Oregon by about 19%, according to the OHA.

As midterms are coming up and missing classes can put extra levels of stress on students—worry has spread throughout the community. 

“There are more parents excusing absences this year,” said Summit attendance secretary Jamie Gulaskey, “95% of it is from illness and the illness is lasting longer than the average cold,” she estimates.

The rate of excused absences is typically very high during the holidays. However, something has changed this year. The New York Times article “Winter Wellness” states that other countries are facing this same problem, causing issues with hospital space from little kids and elders needing medical assistance for the flu. Oregon is facing concern with exposure rates for Flu A, having also had an increase of Covid 19 cases throughout flu season. 

The symptoms of flu A can relate to a common cold but is much more severe. Symptoms have more of an effect causing sneezing, coughing, fever, sore throat and chills, according to Deschutes County Health Services. From Nov. 20 to 24, the Oregon Health Authority confirmed that Central Oregon had a total of 1,604 positive Flu A and Flu B cases, with 99.8% being flu A. The flu rates have not been this high in the past 10 years.

This specific virus holds on much longer, lasting from a week, to three weeks at most. It also seems to be coming in waves, causing students to be sick multiple different times in a few months.

“I was sick for a couple of weeks… in total I probably missed about 6 or 7 days from getting sick,” said Summit senior Ella Taft. Other students are finding themselves in the same position.

“I’ve missed like a week and then a few days here and there, like last week I was out for two days…” said Summit junior Ainslie Knox.

“When students are sick and symptomatic at school, I encourage them to go home and rest until they are feeling better,” said Summit nurse, Pam Orton. The guidelines Summit and other school districts must follow say that kids with the flu must isolate for 72 hours, and that symptoms are estimated to linger for seven days in addition to the three to five days before diagnosis.

“Sometimes students need a little guidance with this, especially when their symptoms are mild,” said Orton, noting that many students who have a test or project due will still attend school even when sick. Tests are almost always in person in this post-pandemic world, and making them up requires taking time during lunch or in an open period, which most students will try to avoid. 

Overall type A has been affecting students and teachers from missing assignments to an ever growing workload pile.

“All combined sick days have brought at least one of my grades down, like, a letter,” said Knox. 

“I missed some assignments and got late penalties,” said Summit junior Ryder Poulin. This can have more of an influence on people who are already behind on school work and the ones going into semester finals.  Missing a single day just adds to the stress load.

“I missed 3 days before Thanksgiving break when I was sick… I missed a lot of learning in the classroom and couldn’t understand some things.” Poulin says.

The Flu A outbreak can not only disrupt your health, but also damage your learning experience, and can lead to a worse performance in school.