Carter County schools closing due to illness

Published 5:02 pm Thursday, March 9, 2017

For the second time in a month, the Carter County School System is closing due to illness.
On Thursday afternoon, Carter County Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward announced the school system would be closed on Friday, March 10, and Monday, March 13, due to illness and absences among both students and staff.
The school system closed on Feb. 17 due to illness-related absences. With the President’s Day holiday on Feb. 20, that gave the system a four-day weekend to allow time for students and staff to recuperate, and for janitorial staff to perform intensive cleanings at the school facilities. Carter County was among several school systems in the area to cancel school during February due to increased absences.
After that closure, attendance numbers improved, but Ward said on Thursday the number of students and staff missing days due to illness had once again spiked. On Tuesday and Wednesday, attendance hovered around 89 percent, Ward said.
“As of this morning it came in at 84 percent, and it has steadily declined as kids have left sick throughout the day,” Ward said on Thursday. “We are down to probably around 81 percent now.”
“The most concerning thing is we have several faculty out as well as several bus drivers,” he continued, adding Transportation Director Wayne Sams had to combine some bus routes in recent days due to bus drivers being out sick.
During February Ward said the Carter County School System appeared to be the last of the local systems to be hit with the increase in illness. “Now, for whatever reason, we seem to be the first one to get hit again,” Ward said.
According to Ward, school system officials considered the option to close schools carefully before making the final decision.
“Most definitely this is in the best interest of our students and staff,” Ward said.
The two-day closure announced by Ward on Thursday should not impact the school system’s schedule.
“We currently have five stockpiled days left, and this will takes us down to three days,” Ward said.
As with the previous closure, Ward said the school system is asking the janitorial staff to perform some intensive cleaning while the schools are closed to try to prevent any illnesses from spreading further.

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