With about 150 students and faculty with flu-related illnesses absent Wednesday from Konawa schools, officials in the Seminole County town have cancelled classes for all grades until Monday.
Konawa Public School Superintendent Joe Sharber said more than 100 desks sat empty from a barrage of flu and stomach flu illnesses on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, that number increased, he said, with more students being sent home with each passing hour of the day, including teachers and principals who also had fallen ill.
As a result, Sharber said notifications were made to parents that classes in all grades would be cancelled for the rest of the week to help keep the flu bugs from spreading any further.
While sickness affected all grade levels, he said, the largest number was from the elementary school.
Only support personnel and a few administrators were at any of the school buildings on Thursday.
“We’re deep cleaning buildings,” Sharber said, especially focusing on desks and the restrooms.
With a total of about 730 students district-wide, the superintendent said 150 falling sick at once was a big number.
“Some classes had eight to 10 students out,” he said.
With closure planned until Monday, Sharber hopes that will prevent others from becoming sick.
But when Monday rolls around, Sharber encourages parents to keep their children home if they are still sick or are running a fever.
Sharber said the district’s snow days would be used for flu days.
Here in Shawnee, Shawnee Public Schools has not experienced a large amount of flu confirmations.
“We do see some flu,” Susie Killingsworth, Shawnee Public Schools health coordinator, R.N. said.
Killingsworth said absence rates vary between Shawnee schools greatly.
Sequoyah Elementary had more confirmed flu cases than Jefferson Elementary, she said, as their 3.9 percent absence rate was less than half of Jefferson Elementary.
Jefferson Elementary had an absence rate of 8.3 percent, but had only one confirmed flu case.
Killingsworth said she is seeing more stomach bugs and RSV, and other illnesses that mimic the flu.
“Flu is not what’s causing most of our absences,” she added.
Lincoln County has had eight hospitalizations due to the flu, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Pottawatomie County has had seven, and Seminole County has had four hospitalizations.