Cato (WSYR-TV) -- The flu is quickly spreading through many area schools. In the last few days, school officials say hundreds of Cato-Meridian students were out sick with the illness.
The district is doing what it can to control the outbreak.
“It’s a mess. My kids are all sick right now and they have five days off of school this week because even if they aren’t sick, they aren’t going,” said parent Deirdre Ducharme.
At the peak of this particular outbreak, 18 percent of kids were out sick.
“If you get over 10 percent of your population, you’re concerned. It’s going to have an impact on instruction, consistency of instruction,” said Middle School Principal Sean Gleason said.
The best advice parents, according to Gleason: “Just like you’d tell anyone in your own family, if you’re sick you need to get yourself well. We don’t want kids coming to school sick -- for their own sake and for the sake of others.”
In the meantime, the middle school is cleaning everything to stop the spread. Staff is busy disinfecting door knobs, water fountains and bathrooms.
At night, a cleaning crew comes in and wipes down all the tables, desks and floors.
The district says attendance is slowly improving and kids seem to be feeling much better, which means less coughing and more learning.
Health officials say this is the earliest outbreak of the flu in nearly a decade and say it’s shaping up to be a bad season for the illness, so they’re reminding people that it’s not too late to get the flu shot.