Los Angeles County Public Health officials say this is the earliest start to flu season the county has seen in five years.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The surge of the early appearances of RSV and flu-like illnesses are taking a toll on schools as they are keeping kids home from school.
The worst of the cold and flu season usually doesn't hit until much later, but at the Los Angeles Unified School District, which serves about 600,000 students, a variety of viruses are keeping attendance counselors busy.
"We're seeing more kids absent earlier than we've seen before," said LAUSD Medical Director Dr. Smita Malhotra.
Malhorta said the trend of students missing school because of medical issues is trending upward.
"Which correlates with the rates of rising respiratory infections that we're having in children throughout LA County," she said.
Malhotra is referring to respiratory infections such as RSV, influenza, rhinovirus and enterovirus. While RSV is the most detrimental to infants and toddlers, illnesses in older children usually last about a week.
"It is causing absences in our schools. Children are calling out sick, but the good news is they recover quickly so they don't miss a lot of learning time," Malhotra said.
But influenza can keep kids out much longer. L.A. County Public Health officials said this is the earliest start to flu season the county has seen in five years and because of this, LAUSD will be reaching out to parents.
"Today, we will be sending a letter to parents with information about the rising rates of respiratory infections and what they can do for preventive measures," Malhotra said.
These preventative measures like getting a flu shot, COVID booster, frequent handwashing, wearing masks when needed and keeping sick kids home can prevent the spread of illnesses.
"We know when our children are not doing okay, and so follow that parental instinct because it's incredibly powerful," Malhotra said.
Eyewitness News checked in with other school districts and San Bernardino City Unified said it's also seeing an increase in student illnesses.
While not every school district is reporting an unusual number of absences, the CDC says flu activity is expected to continue for months and is urging everyone who's six months and older to get vaccinated.