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The Hiawatha School District and the Hiawatha Community Hospital publicly addressed issues concerning several pneumonia cases among students.

Due to the increased number of ill students, Superintendent Lonnie Moser said the district was canceling all activities Thursday evening and would re-evaluate Friday’s activities that morning as more information comes to light. This week’s activities include Homecoming Friday night against Nemaha Central.

In two public letters to parents and patrons this week, Superintendent Lonnie Moser said there had been a handful of pneumonia-like illness diagnosed in the community and schools.

“USD 415 school and and health officials have been working closely with the Hiawatha Community Hospital in the interest of keeping our children safe and healthy,” read Moser’s letter.

Initially, the issue was being handled with the district and local medical professionals, but on Wednesday district officials met with representatives of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to assess the situation.

“The purpose was to gather information as they try to find sources of this illness,” Moser said.

He also confirmed there were several more cases with many additional students out of class, but noted that the district is being stricter on sending students home who have excessive coughing. Moser said that with allergy season upon us, he realizes this can be an inconvenience and some of these students may not have this particular illness, but the district is taking every precaution to try and keep it from spreading — including additional cleaning and disinfecting the buildings.

“We remain in constant communication with our community health professionals and will apprise you of any changes in status,” Moser continued. “Please feel free to contact your student’s school nurse with any questions you may have.

Moser said USD 415, Brown County Health Department and the Hiawatha Community Hospital continue to collaborate and communicate multiple times daily.

“There are still many unknowns regarding this illness,” he continued. “This is certainly troubling. Please know we are doing what we can in order to keep your children, our students and staff safe and healthy.”

Hiawatha Community Hospital CEO John Broberg issued a press release Wednesday concerning the issue. He said the Family Practice and Emergency Room has seen an increase in patients with symptoms of fever and cough. He said affected patients have ranged in age from 9 to 32, with most of the patients between ages 9-14. Other symptoms include sore throat and headache.

Through collaboration with the Hiawatha Community Hospital, the school district has developed the following protocols for parents concerning illness:

Per school policy, any student showing a fever of 100 degrees F or greater, should be kept home from school until fever-free (without the use of medication) for 24 hours.

If a fever of 100.4 lasts for three days, please see your medical provider. If your child has any underlying respiratory condition such as asthma, please see your physician sooner.

If your student has a cough, please keep them home until resolved or cleared by a physician. Students with a cough at school may be sent home.

The hospital provided several recommendations:

If you or your child have a fever of 100.4 for three days with a cough, please see your medical provider. We would recommend that you consider coming into the walk-in clinic between 7:30 and 9 a.m. Monday through Friday to be seen by a medical provider. If you are unable to make it to the walk-in clinic, you can call for a same-day appointment. If you or your child have nay underlying respiratory condition such as asthma, we recommend seeing a medical provider sooner and consider emergency room if the clinic is closed.

Anyone with a fever should not go to school or work until fever-free without medication for 24 hours.

The hospital encourages frequent hand washing to help to decrease the spread of all illnesses and infection.

Contact the Hiawatha Community Hospital at 742-2131 with any questions, or parents of students are encouraged to talk to their school nurse.

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