EAST BEND, N.C. -- East Bend Elementary School staff members spent their Wednesday wiping, spraying and mopping -- at least, the ones who weren’t home sick.
School administrators say 10 of their 35 staff members are ill. However, it’s the number of students stricken with sicknesses which prompted the school system to shut the school down for two days.
“It’s kind of unreal that it had to take us to do this, to close and clean everything,” said Heather Stevens, a fourth-grade teacher at East Bend Elementary.
Stevens adds that on Tuesday, 14 of her 30 students were absent from class. After they went home, she learned that two of the students who were present on Tuesday were also diagnosed with the flu.
“We have so many kids in a tight area,” she said. “They’re touching each other, they’re touching each other’s stuff, things are falling out of their desk, others kids are picking it up.”
On Tuesday, 126 of 297 of East Bend Elementary’s students were sick with either the flu, strep throat or a stomach virus, officials said.
“It knocked one out at a time, so it was probably going to keep continuing,” Stevens said.
When the school system became aware of the numbers, they made the decision to shut down the school on Wednesday and Thursday.
“None of the others were even close to what East Bend was experiencing,” said Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Todd Martin, who compared the school’s absences to the figures from other like-sized schools in the county. “If we hadn’t shut down for the next two days, I think the numbers would have continued to spike up.”
The staff members who were healthy enough to report to work disinfected all surfaces within the school on Wednesday and will continue to wipe everything clean on Thursday.
“Lysol, sanitizer, just trying to be careful,” Stevens said. “It smells very fresh, very clean.”
In the meantime, officials suggest parents do the same while their kids are at home to prevent any further spread.
“I think it would be good advice for parents to wipe down the schoolbooks, and the notebooks, and the pens, and the pencils, and the pencil cases and so on,” Martin said.
No other school systems in the Piedmont Triad reported having illness-related absences to the magnitude of East Bend Elementary School’s.