Local school districts work to disinfect, sanitize buildings after flu outbreak

SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL)-  Several area school districts closed their doors Monday after hundreds of students in some schools were reported absent because of the flu.

Sullivan and Hawkins County schools made the decision on Friday to close school on Monday and Tuesday.

Greene County Schools were closed on Monday, also because of the flu. Greene County schools will be back on a normal schedule on Tuesday.

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Monday morning at Sullivan North High School we found staff members that had been there since 4:30a.m. working to disinfect and sanitize the building.

Sullivan North’s principal, Brent Palmer, said they made the decision to temporarily close their doors when the number of staff members, and students calling out sick gradually increased throughout the week.

“We had 11 staff members out on Thursday. We had 100 kids that were absent on Friday and so that was of great concern to us,” Palmer said.

Sullivan County Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said it was a trend they saw throughout the district on Friday, with an overall three percent decrease in attendance.

“I’m not saying we’ve never experienced a 91 percent attendance rate on any day, but because of what we were seeing state wide, we felt like we needed to take the two days,” Rafalowski said.

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Just an hour down the road in Greene County, we also found cleaning crews hard at work inside West Greene High School for the very same reason.

Principal at West Greene, Steven Tunnell said they too saw a trend in the high number of absences late last week.

“Over 20 percent of our student population was out on Friday,” Tunnell said.

Both districts hoping that by taking some time to clean, they will be ready for students to head back to the classroom.

“I think it’s a good call, to ask our students to stay home these next two days to get better and come back Wednesday ready to go,” Palmer said.

According to the CDC, Tennessee currently has high flu like activity across the state.

You can find the very latest school closings and schedule changes by clicking here.

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