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As you may already be aware, the flu season is upon us. According to the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, influenza activity continues to increase in the United States with Maryland experiencing a moderate intensity level of influenza-like illness. There have been some reported cases of flu in St. Mary’s County.

Attendance in St. Mary’s County public schools is monitored daily, as well as all visits to the health room with flu-like symptoms. While there have been some minor dips in attendance, it has not risen significantly at any of our schools.

St. Mary’s County public schools continue to work closely with the St. Mary’s County Health Department to prevent the spread of the flu. The flu clinics provided earlier this school year at the elementary and middle schools provided needed protection to students and staff from the flu. Hand sanitizers are available throughout each school building for students, visitors and staff to reduce the spread of germs. The Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention is advising all educational institutions to be vigilant in encouraging good prevention measures. “The Flu: A Guide for Parents” can be accessed at or or call 800-CDC-INFO. We ask you to encourage your child to take seriously the following recommendations from public health professionals:

Practice good hand hygiene; cover your cough; avoid sharing utensils, drinks or personal-care items; avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth; drink plenty of fluids, get extra rest and avoid getting run down or overtired.

The flu vaccine is the best way to protect your child from this potentially serious illness and to prevent the spread of illness in schools. The St. Mary’s County Health Department continues to offer the flu vaccine with an appointment and can be reached at 301-475-4330.

St. Mary’s County public schools are working closely with local health officials to remain informed, monitor flu conditions and make decisions to keep our students and staff healthy. We will continue to provide updates, keep you informed, and alert you to new information as it becomes available. For additional information or questions, please contact the St. Mary’s County Health Department at 301-475-4330; Patricia Wince, supervisor of health services for St. Mary’s County public schools, at 301-475-5511, ext. 150; or your child’s school nurse.

Michael J. Martirano, Leonardtown

The writer is superintendent of St. Mary’s County public schools.