Schools dealing with covid, flu and other illnesses: Student and staff attendance down, some high school teams don’t have enough players for sports games

As covid, the flu and other wintertime bugs surge around the Ozarks, the illnesses are wreaking havoc on school and sports schedules, forcing some teams to pull out of tournaments and making it hard to even field enough players for a varsity team.

For many small schools, it means staff and faculty are covering for their peers, even if it means the superintendent has to be the school nurse for a few days.

“We covered each other when we didn’t have subs,” said Bakersfield superintendent Amy Britt. “I was the nurse for three days last week because we needed the nurse sub in classrooms because of sick staff members.”

Britt said she took temps, changed a diaper, gave covid tests to staff, bandaged knees, removed splinters and even pulled a tooth during her three-day stint as superintendent-turned-nurse.

“We just do what we have to do to keep kids in school,” Britt said. “Kids need to be in school. Parents need to work, so we are doing whatever we can to keep the ship moving safely forward.”

Britt applauded her staff and faculty for their dedication and willingness to help out in all areas.

The superintendent said that Bakersfield’s preschool was shutting down this week due to illness. She said they believe potential covid exposure to students is minimal, but said any student displaying symptoms should be seen by their healthcare provider. The preschool will resume classes on Jan. 25, she said.

Almost mirroring the NBA, where professional teams had to call up players and bring players out of retirement recently due to illnesses, area high schools are struggling to find enough players to take the court on game nights. But, unlike the NBA, they don’t have those luxuries. So when illness hits, many teams are forced to reschedule games or forfeit the games or tournaments entirely.

Bakersfield coach Doug Lansdown told the Times that, due to covid and other illnesses, Bakersfield’s girls’ schedule has been a mess, with the Lady Lions only getting to play two games in 20 days.

Usually a busy time of the year for high school sports, Lansdown said their game with Couch on Monday in the Cabool Tournament was cancelled because Couch didn’t have enough players.

Couch, like many schools, has been hard hit recently with covid and other illnesses.

According to the school’s website, the Couch district fell below 85 percent attendance on Jan. 12 and was dealing with the Omicron variant of covid, along with some other illnesses.

A posting on their website by Jean Meyer, Couch superintendent, said several staff members and students were out with covid and other illnesses last week.

Another school, Koshkonong, in Howell County, pulled out of the girls’ Cabool Tournament entirely due to a surge in sickness that prevented them from having enough players to play.

At Dora, superintendent Allen Woods said the school is getting hit hard with covid, “Today (Jan. 18) our attendance is 82 percent, and we have 10 staff members out,” Woods said. “We have two boys on our basketball team who tested positive for covid. Because of that we have cancelled tonight’s game with Mountain Grove and most likely will not play Friday against Seymour.” The superintendent said there were 52 students out sick on Tuesday.

Dora school nurse Shana Hambelton said, “We have been experiencing many illnesses, for example we have been seeing flu, strep throat, respiratory viruses, stomach viruses and some cases of covid as well.”

In Ozark County, active covid cases jumped last week from 34 on Monday to 76 on Friday. Health officials are hoping to see covid cases begin to drop soon.

Ozark County Times

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