Health officials predicted a worse-than-usual flu season, and it’s hitting one school district in Central Virginia hard.
King William County Public Schools’ superintendent told 8News on Thursday that 13 percent of the student population was absent this week and another three dozen teachers stayed home, too.
The school district shared numbers with 8News that showed 187 confirmed or suspected cases of the flu and the three lower schools in the county (Cool Spring Primary, Acquinton Elementary and Hamilton Holmes Middle). Data wasn’t available for the county’s only high school, but the superintendent said 58 students and 11 teachers were absent this week.
Cool Spring Primary School
-113 confirmed or suspected flu cases
-118 student absences
-7 teacher absences
Acquinton Elementary School
-59 confirmed or suspected flu cases (5 confirmed strep throat, 8 stomach virus)
-73 student absences
-12 teacher absences
Hamilton Holmes Middle School
-15 confirmed or suspected flu cases
-41 student absences
-6 teacher absences
King William High School (no data)
-58 total absences
-11 teacher absences
As a result, the district elected to close school on Thursday and Friday so staff could clean and disinfect all surfaces throughout all buildings and buses.
“It was the best way to make sure everybody was healthy,” said Sarah Johnson, whose son, Eli, is a second-grader in the county and one of more than 2,000 in the district who stayed home from school Thursday.
“The kids can’t learn if they’re feeling bad anyway, so I don’t think staying open would’ve been that productive,” Johnson added.
Johnson’s son is no stranger to the flu and once endured such a bad bout that he was hospitalized for more than a week.
“He had the flu once in his life and we were admitted for eight days,” she said.
That’s why Johnson is appreciative of the county’s decision to close school for the remainder of the week.
“There was kid after kid after kid just getting sick, and we were like, ‘ya know, at this point we really just need to kind of stop and reset,'” she said.
The school district says all surfaces are being cleaned and disinfected during the closure. Johnson hopes they’ll scrub deeper.
“Counters and doorknobs and things like that are great,” she said. “But it’s a primary school, so there are bins of blocks and markers and paintbrushes and toys that people are sneezing on.”