Kalmiopsis Elementary School is in the grips of what appears to be a flu epidemic, with 124 students absent Thursday and another 38 sent home because of illness throughout the day.

One class had only five students and many teachers are out sick too according to Principal Helena Chirinian.

Officials from the Oregon Health Department visited the school Wednesday and took samples to test. Results should be available Monday confirming whether the illness is influenza.

Chirinian said that custodians took extra care in disinfecting the school and classrooms before classes Thursday, going so far as to disinfect the playground equipment.

The latest information from the state's Public Health Department says that instances of flu and flu-like illnesses are declining statewide, but that there are still outbreaks regionally.

Azalea Middle School had 31 students absent because of illness Thursday. Absences had been higher in previous weeks because of illness but appear to be declining. Brookings-Harbor High School did not have more absences than usual Thursday.

Officials advise that students who are sick should stay at home to prevent others from catching the illness and are advising those recovering to stay home at least 48 hours after the fever has broken.

To prevent catching the flu, people are advised to wash their hands regularly and to cover their mouths with a tissue or arm when sneezing or coughing. People should avoid touching their eyes, nose and ears and should avoid contact with sick people.