HARDEEVILLE, SC (WTOC) - A Lowcountry school shut its doors last week after dozens of students became ill. Monday, Abundant Life Academy had nine only students absent, which was an improvement from last week.
"Tuesday morning we came in and we had 42 kids out and some still leaving," said Julie Bowman. "By noon we had almost 50 kids out and that's 30 percent of our student body so we decided we needed to close the doors, clean up and let these kids get well."
In this small school, 50 kids can can make a big difference.
"When you have 12 to 15 kids in a class, we show up and there were only four to six kids there to teach, you know it's hard to keep going with new material because you're going to have to re-teach it for the kids that missed it so we decided to hold off," said Bowman.
Many of the students you see playing here were ill last week, several with H1N1.
"I got sick last Saturday and I was sick until Tuesday," said Trevor Cormack.
"I came Monday and then I felt sick so my mom took me to the doctor and found out I had the swine," said Joshua Horry.
Many students like Horry were thankful school officials shut down school Wednesday through Friday, giving them time to recuperate and rest.
"I would have had to make up a couple of tests and quizzes," said Horry.
While school officials disinfected the building, most students like Annalese Martin know what they need to do to protect themselves.
"Put Germ-x on," said Martin.
"Wash your hands, don't pass these germs and parents if your children don't feel good, don't send them to school," said Bowman. "I think that was a big issue."
Next month,The Department of Health and Environmental Control is offering the H1N1 vaccine at most of the schools in the Lowcountry. These are free, but parents must sign a consent form in order for their children to get the shot at school. DHEC is encouraging all children to get this vaccination.
"Children are one of the most vulnerable population as it relates to the H1N1 flu and that's not always the case when it comes to the flu, but this H1N1 flu, that is the case," said Nick Davidson with DHEC Region 8. "This vaccine is safe it's not been rushed for market, it's not something that's been produced in any different way than the regular flu vaccine is produced."
Children under 10 will need a second shot at least 21 days after the first shot.
DHEC says when they have enough vaccine, they'll begin offering them to the public beginning with the priority groups or the most at risk, which include young children, pregnant women, health care providers and those who care for young children.