Flu outbreak closes both Ahousaht schools for several days

Ahousaht, BC

Students and staff of Maaqtusiis elementary and secondary schools were sent home today due to high numbers of flu cases.

Of the 238 students attending both the elementary and high school, only 41 showed up for school on Monday morning.

“Unfortunately, Ahousaht has been hit hard with this nasty flu bug and has affected the attendance in our schools. We closed last week due to low attendance in all departments of the school system,” said Ahousaht Education Director Rebecca Atleo.

She went on to say that only 18 of the 139 elementary students showed up for school on Monday. Of the 99 high school students, 23 made it to school. One parent said that, in one case, there was only one student in the classroom.

Teaching staff were not spared from the flu bug. Atleo says at least a dozen of the staff members are sick.

The school closed Thursday, Nov. 24 due to high absenteeism.

“We directed the custodial staff to do a deep sanitizing of all of the buildings and hoped that people would be better this week. That is not the case as attendance was lower this week than last week,” Atleo told Ha-Shilth-Sa. 

As if the situation couldn’t get any worse, residents are reporting that pharmacy shelves in Tofino are bare in the cold and flu remedy aisle.

Terry Smith of Tofino Pharmacy confirms that they have struggled to get children’s cold remedies on their shelves for months.

“There’s a Canada-wide shortage – there’s been nothing available for a couple of months, it’s disgusting!” said Smith.

Cold and flu remedies are being imported from the US and Australia, but it is not known when the shipments will arrive. Smith is not optimistic about getting a good supply for Tofino.

“When the shipment arrives it will be for all of Canada, so the big box stores will probably get it before the small markets do,” she said. “If you see any cough/cold remedies or Tylenol, stock up, whether you need it or not.”

She said pharmacists are doing whatever they can to help. In the absence of flu remedies in the store, Smith advises parents to speak to the pharmacist about what they can do to help their sick children.

Atleo said she has reached out to leadership for further direction. She said there are a high number of residents sick with the flu. As for the schools, “we will reassess on Wednesday to see how it plays out,” Atleo said.

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