Flu season in a Grand Ledge High School special education classroom

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By Ariel Rogers

Grand Ledge Gazette staff writer

GRAND LEDGE – Flu season is around the corner and Grand Ledge High School employees are taking careful precautions to prevent themselves and students from getting sick.

Tracey Smith is the special education teacher for the cognitively impaired at GLHS. Most of her students get a flu vaccination each year to keep from getting seriously ill.

“Due to the nature of my students’ disabilities, when they get sick, they really get sick,” Smith said. “It typically takes them longer to recover than most people from their illnesses due to their weakened immune systems.”

A Grand Ledge High School student washes his hands to prevent the spread of the flu virus. Photo by Ariel Rogers.

A Grand Ledge High School student washes his hands to prevent the spread of the flu virus. Photo by Ariel Rogers.

Precautions

Smith makes sure that the desks are disinfected before students arrive to class after the students leave for the day.

“I like to disinfect areas regularly, like their tables and the keyboards to the laptops,” Smith said. “I also have the students wash their hands before lunch each day.”

Kaitlin Austin is a paraprofessional in Smith’s class and does her best to help students stop the spread of germs.

“I wash my hands a lot,” Austin said. “I tell kids not to share food or drink and to cover when they cough or sneeze.”

Kim Ganga Clemons is also a paraprofessional in Smith’s class and says that the classroom frequently uses hand sanitizer to get rid of germs.

Hand sanitizer dispensers line the hallways at Grand Ledge High School as a way to kill germs during flu season. Photo by Ariel Rogers.

Hand sanitizer dispensers line the hallways at Grand Ledge High School as a way to kill germs during flu season. Photo by Ariel Rogers.

 

Vaccination and other precautions

Austin got the flu shot this year, but both Clemons and Smith opted not to get vaccinated.

“I felt it would cause me to have the flu symptoms,” Clemons said.

Smith has only received the flu shot twice, and both times it was during pregnancy because it is highly recommended.

“My children usually get the flu shot or mist, but this year we opted not to,” Smith said. “I was back and forth on the decision many times, but at this point no one in my family has been vaccinated this season.”

In addition to her classroom, Smith takes measures at home to avoid getting sick.

“I keep everyone’s hands washed many times throughout the day,” Smith said. “I disinfect areas that are touched a lot and my family has been using essential oils [such as] thieves, lavender, purification and wintergreen, nightly as a preventative.”

The classroom has been fortunate this year and has seen few flu-related absences so far, perhaps due to the stringent cleaning methods practiced by Smith and her aides.

 

For more information, contact Ariel Rogers at roger219@msu.edu

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