Student attendance drops as colds and flu sweeps through schools


School rolls have declined in the region over the past week as many pupils are staying home sick with common colds, gastric bugs and the flu.

At one stage Garin College had around 30 per cent of their roll away sick with 160 absences from the 480 student school.

Reliving principal Sheila Granger says the school has also had a lot of staff away sick but the numbers of both staff and students are starting to climb back up.

“Things seem to be coming right now,” she says. “It seems to be a gastric bug as well as a bit of a cold going around too.

“Other schools are having a lot of absences too I believe.”

Acting Waimea College principal Graeme Smith says his school has been lucky with an average of three teachers away sick each day of the 108 teaching staff.

He says he has definitely noticed a decline in students but says it’s quite common for this time of year.

“I’ve just done a rough calculation and there’s probably 15 to 20 per cent away over the last week.

“We’ve been told it’s a flu flu, whatever that means, probably as a result of the pollen this time of year, as well as a vomiting bug going around.”

Graeme says he has spoken to several other schools in the region who have been affected including Motueka High.

“It can be quite hard on a school because you’ve got to cover them with relief teachers and all that,” he says.

Nelson College for girls principal Cathy Ewing says she has also noticed around 15 to 20 per cent of her students have been away sick.

“We’re not in epidemic preparations but we’ve definitely had more staff and students away in the last week than we would normally do.

“It’s been flu type things as I understand. Headache flu-y symptoms and that kind of thing.”

Nayland College principal Daniel Wilson says he doesn’t think his school has been hit as hard as the others.

“I just ran the reports today and we’ve had 12.5 per cent of students away which is compared to around eight per cent for the term.”