UPDATE: Flu Activity Highest in Chattanooga, Understanding Schoo - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Flu Activity Highest in Chattanooga, Understanding School Attendance Policy

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - You're likely to see more people sneezing and coughing as the flu continues to spread across the nation.

If you haven't heard a Walgreens pharmacy study had Chattanooga at number one in the country for flu activity. Doctors say with treatment, symptoms can last 3-4 days. 

However without medicine they can last a full week. We've heard from many concerned parents worried about sick days.

School officials say they are prepared to use emergency days only if illness affects 20 percent of students across a county's school system or more than 30 percent of students at a single school.

"We did see some movement upwards usually that 2 week off period they just had for Christmas will alleviate a lot of that sickness, at least we hope," said Lee McDade, Asst. Supt. Hamilton County Schools.

McDade says four elementary schools on the North Side of Hamilton County had high absences before Christmas break. Students will return Thursday.

"You know if they're sick and they have a fever usually the rule of thumb in Hamilton County is 24-hours without a fever then usually they're safe to come to school but if it's been less, we kind of want them to stay at home," sid McDade.

Athens City Middle School closed when more than 30 percent of students had to miss before break.

On Tuesday, after a long rest attendance was up to 97 percent and a "back to school" spike can still happen.

"There will still be cases of flu we know that and we will just monitor it, it's all we can do and if it becomes an issue we'll take action," said McDade.

Teachers will do what they can to keep rooms clean but the best thing is for parents to keep sick kids home.

Most school policies allow 3-5 parent notes for an excused illness before requiring a doctor's note.

It's only after 5 unexcused absences, the law requires school officials to report it to the court. After 10 unexcused days, school officials say the student will be referred to a social worker.

"If it's excused there's no limit it's the unexcused we have a limit of 5," said McDade. "After 10, the social worker would get involved at that point she would work with the parents to remedy the problem."

According to the CDC there have been 21 pediatric deaths so far this flu season. Most schools back in session across the Tennessee Valley reported high attendance Tuesday. 

Doctors say it is not too late to get the flu shot. Although it doesn't cover every strand, it can lessen flu symptoms.

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