TOPEKA — Large numbers of students are missing school and activities in Kansas as the flu strikes early and hard.
The state's first weekly report on student absenteeism caused by illness found that nearly 20 percent of the elementary schools and 25 percent of middle and high schools had 10 percent or more of their students absent during the week ending Oct. 9.
The information was included in the Kansas Department of Health and Environment's weekly influenza report. The department began gathering data on absenteeism related to illnesses last week through county health departments.
In south-central Kansas, about a quarter of the school districts are reporting 20 percent or more of their middle and high school students absent. Harvey County schools reported more than half of their middle school students are ill.
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Absentee rates for Sedgwick County schools were not reported.
In western Kansas, students in Ness City schools got an unscheduled two-day break earlier this month because of widespread illness.
Youth activities also are seeing attendance dwindle.
In Johnson County, attendance is sparse at the AmeriKick karate studio. Instructor Jarrett Leiker counted the students during one class last week. Instead of 30, there were just 11.