Fairfax County reported slightly higher student and teacher absenteeism in a random survey of some of its schools last week, attributing the drop in attendance to the winter flu season.
Officials in other metropolitan jurisdictions said the number of no-shows in their schools was running about average, however. The same was true for employes of local governments, officials said.
Hardest hit in Fairfax County last week were Lake Braddock Secondary School and the Barden Elementary School near Fort Belvoir, the random survey by the schools' public information office indicated.
At Lake Braddock, between 200 and 250 of the high schools' 2,625 students were out last Thursday compared to the 150 who are absent on an average day. In the intermediate school, 150 of the 1,475 students in grades 7 and 8 were absent compared to the average daily absentee rate of 75 to 80 students.
"This seems to last three or four days and then it seems to recur again in seven or eight," said Lake Braddock's health clinic aide Joan Orsino.
At Barden Elementary School, 36 of the 491 students were out sick last Thursday compared to the average daily absentee rate of 10 to 15 students. Eight of the 28 staff members were also out sick.
Although the spokeswoman said there is no flu epidemic in county schools, Dr. Fred J. Payne, assistant director of health for the county government, said that the county was "seeing a lot of absenteeism in the schools and we know there is an influenza Type A in the area, the kind that is epidemic. It's picking on susceptibles who missed it last year."
Although there is "no measure of the flu's strength in the county," Payne said, the incidence "was very low last year and may just look higher this year."