Schools close due to sickness, re-open, close again this week

Posted January 30, 2019 at 3:14 pm

The Clinton County School District canceled school on Friday and Monday, January 25, and January 28 due to the increasing number of students out for sickness.

After re-opening Tuesday, officials found that absentee numbers were still at above than acceptable levels, prompting a decision around noon Tuesday to again cancel classes for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.

Normally, each school sits at around 93 percent attendance rate.

On Thursday afternoon, the Clinton County Middle School bottomed out at 84 percent.

“What we usually do is watch for a decline,” Julie York, Director of Pupil Personnel, said. “That’s how you know it’s true sickness is when it’s across the board and not just one school.”

York said administrators saw this coming the previous week.

“We keep in touch with the schools around us,” York said. “We’ve been talking to our health care providers and they keep in touch with us.”

York said most of the surrounding schools are seeing more and more flu cases causing the sickness.

“The percentages are dropping like crazy,” York said. “Especially the little kids. Our middle school got down to 84.8 percent. They were our worst one that day. A lot of those kids came to school and they were just dropping and they were testing them for the flu right there at school and it was flu, flu, flu. A lot of those were verified flu cases and when that happens, you are better off to just let school out. You can piggyback on a weekend and get those two free days and you’re just smart to do that.”

Even though students were dismissed for two days, teachers still come in during that time off and work, as well as janitors who work to sanitize the school on a deeper level.

“We have been super proactive anyways on cleaning, but they come in and super clean … they wash the bathrooms down, they have some kind of machine that is somewhat like a pressure washer … clean all the classrooms, hallways, and our buses get a really good cleaning too.”

One suggestion York gave for parents is to wash outerwear really good like backpacks and lunch boxes.

“Some things that can’t be washed, can be wiped down really good,” York said. “Hopefully all that will kind of kill it out over the break.”

The decision to call off school for two days came from Superintendent Charlotte Nasief, however, she made that decision on the information provided to her by York regarding the falling attendance percentages that had occurred all last week.

“She makes the decision. I inform her and keep her in the loop on what our numbers look like,” York said. “She keeps in contact with our other districts. I keep in contact with the medical field and the schools and keep her in the loop on what those numbers are looking like. She contacts me and the principals and we all work together.”

Friday and Monday were announced as Cyber Days two and three for the year.

Students have packets that outline several items they need to complete before they have returned to school on Tuesday.

“The kids return their work when they get back,” York said. “It gives you a little more freedom when you do feel like you need to close school and you’re not losing momentum and you’re not losing instruction,” York said. “The kids can still keep doing what they are doing. They are pretty beneficial.”

Each year, the Clinton County School System gets 10 Cyper Days that can be utilized in order to keep from making those days up at the end of the year.”

Once the students are back in school, York and Nasief will look at the numbers for two days and determine whether or not school needs to be dismissed any more for the reminder of the week.

“We will look at our numbers on Tuesday and Wednesday and kind of see what they are and make a decision from there,” York said. “We hope to get back in because you don’t want to keep them out for too long. We just have to wait and see.”

On Thursday of last week, Albany Elementary School was at 91 percent, the Early Childhood Center was at 81.4 percent, the middle school was sitting at 84.8 percent and the high school was at 88.5 percent.