The flu bug walloped Hampshire County hard last week, but the worst may be over — at least for the schools.

Illness was so pervasive last Thursday that Hampshire County schools closed 3 hours early Thursday and called off Friday’s session.

“It becomes an issue of how we’re going to cover classes,” Superintendent Jeff Pancione said.

More than 50 staff members called in sick last Thursday and, just as importantly, the schools couldn’t find subs for 21 of those.

By Tuesday, conditions were better. Personnel Director Terrie Jo Saville said 21 employees were out sick. Substitutes were in place for all but 4 of them.

“It’s not near the problem it was,” she said.

A week earlier, the chief school nurse, Rhonda Dante, reported that flu and strep throat were hitting, but nothing out of the ordinary.

“Things changed quickly,” she said this Monday.

Hardest-hit last week were Romney Elementary, Augusta Elementary and Romney Middle School.

But Stephanie Shoemaker, executive director of the Hampshire County Health Department, said on Monday that attendance was improved at Romney Elementary, although Capon Bridge Middle School’s absences had spiked from last week.

“There’s no trend downward yet,” she said. “Some schools are showing improvement as of today, but with this flu that doesn’t mean anything for tomorrow.”

The sudden escalation of influenza here saw Trinity Family Healthcare in Romney treat a record number of patients for 3 days in a row last week.

CVS Pharmacy at Sunrise Summit reported sending out at least 100 doses of Tami-Flu in one day.

Shoemaker said a weekly statewide report showed 63 separate outbreaks of flu in West Virginia this season, which will continue for another month or so.

“Throughout the state it’s widespread,” she said.

Even this late, she said, flu vaccines are still available and she encouraged anyone concerned to get one.

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