KING WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Just a week before Thanksgiving, it was announced that students enrolled in King William County Public Schools won’t be in school on Nov. 17 and Nov. 18 after a surge in illnesses hit the community.

Cases of flu and strep throat made their way across the public school system, which is already experiencing staffing issues. The school system made the decision to temporarily shut down schools, ending in-person instruction for the time being.

Dr. Laurie Forlano with the Virginia Department of Health warned about an influx in respiratory illnesses spreading across the state — a surge not exclusive to King William County.

“We’re seeing here in Virginia fairly dramatic increases in influenza, or the flu, and another respiratory condition called RSV,” Forlano said. “With those two conditions, the numbers just rose very quickly over the last several weeks.”

This recent closure is the second time this month a local school system closed due to heightened illness transmission. Saint Michael’s Episcopal School shut down for two days during the first week of November.

“As far as communities having to take measures, like taking a pause on school or some other activities, that is sometimes a measure that has to be taken to stop transmission,” Forlano said. “We try to avoid that, and I know the schools try to avoid that as much as they can, so I think that’s a good reminder to take prevention tips that could help avoid those circumstances.”

According to the CDC, Virginia currently falls in the high-activity category of transmission, which means viruses like the flu, RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), and COVID-19 are spreading more rapidly and earlier in the season than the community typically expects.

Health experts encourage people across the state to get vaccinated, wash their hands, monitor their symptoms, and — if possible — to temporarily shut down places that are hotspots for germs, like schools, to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.

In the meantime, as King William County students remain at home, middle and high school students are still required to complete all assignments virtually. Extracurricular activities are also scheduled to go on as planned.