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A Virginia high school will stay open while hundreds of students call out sick with flu-like symptoms

By Steve Almasy and Sara Turnbull, CNN

Hundreds of students missed class Monday at a northern Virginia high school where “a number of students have tested positive for influenza A” and others have symptoms consistent with the flu.

The number of students who stayed home from Stafford High School in Fredericksburg dropped from about 1,000 Friday to 670 on Monday, officials said.

Stafford County Public Schools spokesperson Sandra K. Osborn said the school has undergone a deep cleaning and disinfecting as officials search for answers.

“We have investigated the water fountains and meals service, and do not believe there is a connection between either of those services and these illnesses,” Osborn said in a statement.

Osborn said the Virginia Department of Health recommends keeping the school open.

Officials did cancel sports games against other schools through Tuesday. But activities such as homework, test makeup, clubs and athletic practices can be held, Osborn added, saying the decision was reached after consulting the health department.

The Rappahannock Area Health District said it is working with school officials to investigate a possible disease outbreak.

“The school has reported that a number of students have tested positive for influenza A, and more are showing respiratory and gastrointestinal symptoms consistent with the flu,” officials said in a statement.

Stafford High School has an approximate enrollment of 2,100 students, Osborn has said.

An early increase in seasonal flu activity has been reported in most of the US, with the nation’s southeast and south-central regions reporting the highest levels of flu nationwide as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

School districts elsewhere in the US have also reported an uptick in flu-like symptoms among students. At least two high schools in the San Diego Unified School District had high rates of absences this month, with one school recording about 1,000 absences out of 2,600 students, a school spokesperson told CNN.

Flu activity in the US often starts to increase in October and usually peaks between December and February, according to the CDC’s website.

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CNN’s Raja Razek and Jacqueline Howard contributed to this report.

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