A Message from School Health on Winter Illnesses

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Winter illness season is here. The Flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and COVID are some illnesses to be aware of this season. To protect yourself and others, please keep your student home and notify the school clinic if they are sick. The School Health Bureau asks that you read the following to help identify and prevent the spread of winter illnesses: 

FACTS:  Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness caused by different types of influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, including pregnancy, asthma, lung and heart conditions, weakened immune systems, and others, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.

HOW IT SPREADS:  Influenza and similar viruses are spread by coughing, sneezing, and close contact. Less often, a person might get the flu by touching an object with the flu virus and then touching their mouth, eyes or nose. Sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses may also spread the flu.

SYMPTOMS: The most common symptoms of flu are fever or feeling feverish/chills and either a new cough or sore throat. Fatigue, muscle soreness, headaches, and runny/stuffy nose may also occur. Some people – especially children – may also have vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms can also present in someone with COVID-19.

PREVENTIVE MEDICATION: If you or your student fall into one of the high-risk categories above and have been exposed to someone with influenza. Please discuss with a medical provider whether taking anti-viral medication before illness develops is appropriate.


  1. Please either stay at home or keep your student at home and notify the school clinic.
  2. Have your student tested for COVID-19 or receive clearance from a medical provider and submit to https://apsva.iad1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6loaODG7Pfzhn7g.  Please do not return to school until fever-free (without medication) for at least 24 hours, even if they are negative for COVID-19.
  3. If your student is COVID-positive, a clearance date will be provided by the COVID response team.
  4. Contact a healthcare provider for guidance and/or evaluation. Provide them with a copy of this letter. Ask the provider about the benefits of taking antiviral medication which can reduce the severity of disease. It is very important to start this medication as soon as possible after symptoms begin (within 48 hours is most effective).

PLEASE REMEMBER: Covering coughs or sneezes, and washing hands regularly and thoroughly are very important to help prevent catching and spreading the flu and other respiratory viruses.  

It’s not too late for vaccination against the flu or COVID! For the flu vaccine: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine each year.

  • To find flu vaccines near you go to https://www.vaccines.gov/find-vaccines/ and type in your zip code and select your vaccine option.
  • The Arlington County Public Health Division also has vaccine clinics each week. Click here for more information about appointment times, locations, and costs.

 For the COVID vaccine:

RSV UPDATE: The CDC has shown an increase in RSV detections nationwide. Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms. Most people recover in a week or two, but RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. If you think your student might have RSV or are unsure of what your student has, contact a healthcare provider for guidance and/or evaluation.

MORE INFORMATION:  General information on influenza, COVID, and RSV from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/; https://www.cdc.gov/rsv/index.html; https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html