Muhlenberg County Schools Closed After Flu Outbreak

In Muhlenberg County, the flu is spreading faster than some can ever remember

"Not that I’m aware of. It's a huge outbreak,” Carla Embry said Monday.

At a place where there's more people under one roof than anywhere else, with most of them still developing their immune systems, the outbreak is even worse.

"He was telling me every day that more and more students were missing. Thursday, the nurse called me and said that his throat was really, really red."

Embry pulled her son out of school. He had the flu, and he wasn't alone.

"On Friday, probably around 11:40, we had about 640 kids already absent. They were still signing out. I think at the end of the day, we had about 680,” said Muhlenberg County School District Superintendent Randy McCarty.

Typically, Muhlenberg County Schools’ attendance hovers around 94 percent. When it dropped to 85 percent, the school board knew it had to make a decision. Ultimately, the board cancelled class for all Muhlenberg County Schools K through 12 on Monday and Tuesday.

"At some point, it was just getting worse. We talked to our healthcare providers, and they were getting over-run with flu symptoms coming in to their emerge-cares and the doctors, so It's just something, our kids are sick, and we've got to find out some way to try break the cycle,” McCarty said.

At Muhlenberg North Middle School Monday, there weren’t any students, but there were people trying to make sure it's back to business as usual on Wednesday.

"Our custodians right now are spending today and tomorrow doing a lot of cleaning with bleach and disinfectants for our schools,” McCarty said.

Another piece of the puzzle is money. McCarty said the district was losing about $16,000 a day, based on what the state provides for attendance.

However, he said student health was the biggest factor in the decision.

"We knew that something had to be done, so there really wasn't a lot of parents calling and complaining,” McCarty said.

"You've got to stop the outbreak somehow, and they're continuously exchanging those germs at school, so hopefully this will clear everything out in the schools,” Embry said.

Muhlenberg County will make up the days at the end of the school year as if they were snow days.

McCarty said he's not expecting attendance to be at 94 percent Wednesday, but thinks it won't be too far off that mark.


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