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Wave of illness hits Fargo-Moorhead area schools

In Moorhead Area Public Schools, a total of 620 students in grades K-12 were out sick on Monday, Dec. 5, compared to about 440 students who were out sick district-wide about a year earlier, on Dec. 6, 2021.

Horace Mann
Horace Mann Elementary in Fargo.
Forum file photo
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FARGO — In Fargo's public schools, 626 students were out sick on Monday, Dec. 5, reflecting the toll that surging infections like RSV are taking on area residents, children in particular.

For comparison, the absentee numbers for Fargo schools for Dec. 5, 2021, was 279.

This past Monday's numbers in Fargo were up significantly even since Nov. 28, when 486 students were out sick.

In Moorhead Area Public Schools, a total of 620 students in grades K-12 were out sick on Monday, compared to about 440 students who were out sick district-wide about a year earlier, on Dec. 6, 2021.

On Nov. 1, 2022, about a month ago, about 448 students missed class because of illness in Moorhead Area Public Schools. Moorhead's total enrollment at the start of this school year was about 7,400 students and Fargo's was about 11,400.

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While the absentee numbers could not be ascribed to specific illnesses, reports nationwide indicate an ongoing surge in the number of cases of RSV, a respiratory virus that mostly shows up in adults as a mild illness with cold-like symptoms, but which can cause pneumonia and other serious disease in very young children.

RSV can be life-threatening in infants and older adults.

In the recent absentee reports from Fargo and Moorhead public schools, the largest number of students missing class were in the elementary grades.

On Monday, that number was 289 in Fargo and 221 in Moorhead.

In the West Fargo Public Schools, 372 students were out of class on Monday due to illness, or medical stay or procedure. Of that number, 147 were elementary students.

On Nov. 21, 333 students in West Fargo were out for illness or medical reasons.

At two Fargo elementary schools, Horace Mann and Roosevelt, more than 90 students were absent due to illness on Monday, according to Leandra Ostrom, principal for both schools.

"We sent a number of students home with fevers, upset stomachs, headaches, coughs, and generally not feeling well. If your child is exhibiting symptoms please consider keeping them home," Ostrom wrote in a message to parents.

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"We are coming upon the flu season," she added. "Please remind your students to continue to wash their hands and keep their hands away from their face and mouth to help keep them healthy."

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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