Warren County schools are closed for two days due to illness but the school year will not be extended.
“This is the first time we’ve ever had to close due to illness, at least as far as I can recall,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox. “We’ve been tracking this since the middle of January. Our absenteeism is usually around 6 percent. It slowly started to rise in January.”
Cox says 10 percent of the school system’s teachers and students were absent Wednesday and/ or leaving school early complaining of flu-like symptoms, as well as symptoms that would indicate stomach virus.
“We went from 6 percent absent to 7 percent to 8 percent and then 9 percent,” said Cox. “By Wednesday, we were at 10 percent of our teachers out and more getting sick and going home. We were having a difficult time getting subs because they were sick too. We were right at 10 percent with our student population out and it was rising.”
Cox says after consulting with principals and health service personnel, the decision was made to call school off for Thursday and Friday and hope the situation subsides with a four-day weekend.
“We hope this gives everyone a chance to get well,” said Cox. “That’s our goal – give them a chance to recover and give us a chance to sanitize everything before Monday. We are using our stockpiled days, our weather days, for this. We won’t have to make up or add anything to the calendar. We had eight days left for weather. This will bring us down to six. Hopefully, we won’t have to use any more than that.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 22 million sick days are taken each year due to the common cold alone. With even more serious concerns over influenza, the microbiologists at NSF International wanted to conduct an experiment to find out where germs were most commonly found in local schools.
The study was conducted in two Michigan elementary schools. It revealed there were more germs found on an average classroom water fountain spigot than there were on a toilet seat. Water fountain spigot was found to be the germiest place, followed by plastic reusable cafeteria tray, faucet handles, keyboard and then, toilet seat.
Making the water fountain spigot a hot spot for germs is children putting their mouths right on the spout. To help protect children from germs, teach them to keep their mouths off the metal and to let the water run for a second before drinking.
Since bacteria and viruses can live for more than two days on many surfaces, proper and frequent handwashing is also important. Proper handwashing involves thorough scrubbing of hands under warm water with soap for a full 20 seconds before rinsing and drying with a clean towel.