Oxford, MS – A common sound amongst Ole Miss students right now is sniffling and coughs.
The flu has swept through what Oxford, MS these last few weeks of January and early February.
According to the CDC Mississippi is one of 23 states experiencing high flu conditions. Based on the National Center for Health Statistics available on January 31, 2019, 7.2% of the deaths occurring during the week ending January 19, 2019 were due to Pneumonia and Influenza.
The Mississippi State Department of Health has seen an increase in the Oxford area alone last week. In Mississippi there has been a total of 16,390 confirmed cases on January 19, 2019.
While it may seem like the problem is more than normal Sandy Bentley, a pharmacist at the University Health center, said they have not seen more patients than normal, however the doctors have had to turn away students and send them to Red-Med or Urgent Care just because they have met capacity which is normal during flu season.
Many teachers are pleading for students to not come to class with the flu, while others have no leeway on their attendance policy. 4 out of 5 students, however, said their teachers understood the circumstances and just requested a doctors note.
Professor Denis Irwin is a graphic design teacher in the journalism school. He said he had only one student out for the flu but is now feeling under the weather himself.
“If someone has missed for the flu, I’m going to help them get back up to speed with the class when they get back. Also, I won’t count illness against a student,” said Irwin.
Professor Kristen Walker teaches two different levels of intensive french classes her at the university. Her students meet every day and receive 6 hour credits for class.
“I have had 2 students out with the flu. As long as they send me a doctor’s excuse (and both of them did) I am happy to excuse their absence. My Powerpoints are on Blackboard, so while they are out they have the opportunity to follow the material. If they needed extra help with the material I would be happy to meet with them during my office hours, make an appointment, and/or send them to the free French tutors on campus. I would want to work with them to make sure they feel good about the material they missed while they were out,” Walker said.
Junior Grace Waugh was hit with the first week of the flu. She said attendance in her classes was no problem.
“They were very understanding! They were empathetic and caring and just wanted me to feel better,” Waugh said.
Sophomore Chloe Bardon felt fluish starting Wednesday and went to Red-Med here in Oxford. They sent her away with antibiotics because she tested negative for the flu. They said she had not come in soon enough for it to test positive. She did have the flu and was prescribed tamiflu and is still recovering while going to class.
“I missed a test but thankfully my teacher said he would take my next test grade and double it. I was lucky enough to have my school work not get in the way,” Bardon said.
Professor Charles Mitchell teaches large lecture classes on Communications Law.
“It’s strange, but I have only had one or two ‘flu’ excuses. Attendance has been pretty solid.
Also, sometimes during ‘cold and flu season,’ there’s a lot of coughing and sneezing among students. I have not heard as much of that as I expected when I heard about all the students out of local grade schools,” Mitchell said.
On January 25th, Oxford and Lafayette School District were reporting 714 students collectively absent due to illness according to the Oxford Eagle.
Claire Sanderson is a fitness program assistant at the Turner Center. While going to the gym might not be a flu patients first choice of location it is still a concern to the staff. She said they have seen a decrease in attendance but cannot be sure that is flu related.
“We have not changed our cleaning routines or cleaning products, but we have really been diligent about wiping down all surfaces and machines and cleaning even more frequently.” said Sanderson.
The University is also sending out a PDF of tips to prevent the flu. It gives information explaining to cover your mouth when you cough, avoid sick people, if a person should become sick seek medical attention 24 hours after a fever starts. It also advises taking a fever reducer and getting enough rest.
Faculty and staff are saying if the choice is between missing a day of class and getting well, just stay home and get well.