Farwell Elementary School second-grader Myles Arneault points to his experiment partner, Parker Crafts, and says, “You are going to wipe the toilet seat, not me.” With influenza cases widespread, second-graders in Abby Dix’s class were learning how germs spread and what they can do to avoid getting sick. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — Principals are reporting that local schools have not been hit hard — so far — by the influenza outbreak, which is widespread in Maine and across the nation.

The good news at Farwell Elementary School is that there has only one confirmed case.

The bad news: That case is Farwell principal Amanda Winslow.

“Saturday morning, I started to not feel well,” Winslow said during a telephone interview.

Winslow said she had the classic symptoms, including fever.

Advertisement

“I went to Urgent Care on Sunday,” she said, where they tested her for influenza.

“They called back on Monday,” Winslow said. “It tested positive — influenza A.”

As of Thursday, “there’s no cases at school except me,” she added. “Isn’t that weird?”

Winslow said she is now under a doctor’s care and will not return to school until at least 24 hours after her fever is gone, as recommended by her doctor.

At Park Avenue Elementary, principal Vickie Gaylord said: “They’re not dropping like flies. We haven’t been bothered” by the flue outbreak.

As Gaylord spoke, she joked that she needed “to find a piece of wood” to knock on for good luck.

Advertisement

Park Avenue’s attendance on Tuesday was a healthy 98 percent, she said.

At Pediatric Associates in Lewiston, Dr. Linda Glass said her office remains busy, seeing youngsters who have influenza or viruses with similar symptoms. The number of cases is not high, but in some cases symptoms are more severe.

“We have kids with high fevers, coughs and (who are) feeling lousy,” Glass said.

A couple of kids have been admitted to the hospital because they needed IVs.

Edward Little High School principal Scott Annear said there were no confirmed flue cases at the school as of Wednesday. Student absences have averaged about 10 percent this week, which is not a big bump, he said.

As a precaution, the custodial staff is following Maine Department of Education protocols for keeping things sanitized.

Advertisement

“We’ve been pushing hand-washing and sanitizing to folks to mitigate” any outbreak, Annear said.

Hand-washing the right way was discussed in Abby Dix’s second-grade class Wednesday. The Farwell class did a science lesson on how easily germs spread.

With so much influenza this winter, Dix said she wanted her students to understand why they should not touch their face, why they should wash hands after blowing their nose and “why they have to use soap and really scrub.”

Students took pieces of bread and wiped down surfaces of a desk or a toilet, or touched bread with unwashed hands, touched their nose then touched the bread. Still others touched the bread after using a hand sanitizer or washing thoroughly.

The bread was slipped into small plastic bags, labeled, then stapled to a board on the wall.

“Even though we can’t see it, the bread is covered with germs,” Dix told her class.

Advertisement

“Soon these are going to look nasty” and grow moldy, she said. The bread with more germs will get moldier faster “because germs attack. What do we know about germs, Anna?”

“They can make you sick. They spread all over,” said Annarose Dubois.

Students were asked how should they wash their hands.

Paige Taylor said, “You should sing ‘Happy Birthday” while washing hands, which takes about 30 seconds, she said. “That’s how long you should wash your hands.”

Students talked about why they need to cover their mouths with sleeves when they sneeze. An uncovered sneeze, their teacher said, can spread germs dozens of feet out.

“Like a snot rocket,” agreed second grader Jacob Campbell.

Advertisement

[email protected]

Farwell Elementary School second-grader Parker Crafts left and experiment partner, Myles Arneault, react as they wipe pieces of bread on the classroom toilet seat. With influenza cases widespread, second graders in Abby Dix’s class were learning about how germs spread and what they can do to avoid getting sick. Students wiped bread on different surfaces, the bread with more germs will get more moldy, Dix said. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Farwell Elementary School second-grader Annarose Dubois cleans her hands with sanitizer Wednesday. With influenza cases widespread, second graders in Abby Dix’s class were learning about how germs spread and what they can do to avoid getting sick. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Farwell Elementary School second grade teacher Abby Dix asks her students why, and how, they should wash their hands (30 seconds with soap), and how they should sneeze (into your sleeve). The class experimented by wiping bread on clean and dirty surfaces to see how germs attack; the bread with more germs will turn more moldy quicker, Dix said. Bonnie Washuk/Sun Journal 

Farwell Elementary School second-grader, Myles Arneault, reacts after wiping a piece of bread on the classroom toilet seat during Wednesday’s project at the Lewiston school dealing with germs and the flu. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.