Last Wednesday, some 700 students and 100 faculty or staff members were absent causing Scott County Schools to close schools Thursday and Friday, said Renee Holmes, community education director.
The decision was more a precaution against an increase in the flu as attendance at most schools was near the normal range, she said.
“Stamping Ground Elementary’s attendance has been in the high 80s for awhile, and they have experienced the most absentees,” she said.
On Wednesday, Stamping Ground Elementary’s attendance was 89.3 percent. A typical elementary school attendance is 95-96 percent, Holmes said.
February 2017 was the last time the school district closed for illness, she said.
“We monitor the daily attendance by percent and by number for each school as well as district totals and staff absences,” Holmes said.
Scott County was among some 40 Kentucky school districts to close this week due to illness— mostly the flu—according to various media reports.
Several years ago, Scott County instituted Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) days enabling students to be instructed via computer or packets sent home by teachers earlier in the year. The NTI days make decisions regarding school closings easier, said school officials.
“Even though we do not like to cancel classes, in this case we feel NTI days will provide higher quality instruction than days at school with so many students and teachers absent,” wrote Superintendent Dr. Kevin Hub on the school system’s Facebook page.
Higher flu cases during this time of the year is not unusual.
“We’re in the middle of flu season and we’re handing out flu shots like candy,” said Dr. Crystal Miller, WEDCO public health director.
Closing schools inhibits the spread of the flu where students and teachers are often in close proximity in classrooms and hallways, medical experts said. The flu virus can survive up to 48 hours on some surfaces.
The Scott County school system used the days off to clean and sanitize the schools using a hospital-grade mist to disinfect common areas. The mist is a sodium chloride mix, often called chorine, and is distributed using a misting machine to treat hard-to-reach areas.