New child flu death reported in Illinois as 185 students call out sick at one school

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS (Fox 32 News) - Parents at South Middle School are taking precautions after a high number of absences this week.

The Arlington Heights school is one of the first in the area to fall under a new round of flu epidemics sickening people around the country. One-hundred-and-eighty-five South Middle School students stayed home Wednesday. Seventh grader Marie Montgomery wasn't among them. She says classrooms have been feeling kind of empty.

“I’ve been to some classes where there are like 15 kids and we have like at least 25 kids in a class sometimes and there’ll be like 10 kids out and it’s so weird because there’ll be like all these empty spaces and you don’t know where or what and it’s just so confusing," said Marie Montgomery.

Parents got a letter from administrators, alerting them to the high number of absences. One-hundred-and-fifty-eight students called in sick Tuesday and 185 Wednesday. That’s out of a total student body of 884 students. Overall, reasons for the absences have varied, but at least 30 families called with confirmation that it’s the flu.

“And the nursing staff’s been working really hard to keep everything moving and it’s just been hard to see the kids not feeling well," said Susan Gavin, front office staff at South Middle School.

Administrators are doing what they can for now. Inside these walls, promoting healthy habits, like hand washing and using hand sanitizer.

“Teachers are having students clean their school supplies with school wipes and cleaning surface areas with that and also our facilities team is doing some extra cleaning," said Adam Harris, Arlington Heights School District 25 spokesman.

Most importantly, they’re asking parents to keep sick kids home. The most recent information reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health is that a child has died in Chicago from the flu. That’s now the third child to die in Illinois from the flu this season.