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Flu outbreak closes Yukon school

Daily Oklahoman - 12/14/2017

Dec. 14--YUKON -- Central Elementary will reopen to students on Thursday, a day after a flu outbreak resulted in the school's closure.

Approximately 114 children, or 30 percent of students, missed school or went home sick Tuesday, Yukon Public Schools Superintendent Jason Simeroth said Wednesday.

Five teachers who complained of flu-like symptoms, including fever and vomiting, also went home sick. Five more who reported for work Wednesday went home sick, Simeroth said.

"We've done everything the right way, from the minute we saw something escalating," he said. "We did a little more cleaning and gave teachers supplies, that was yesterday morning.

"It kept on growing and growing to the point where we felt it was in the best interest of students and teachers to intervene. So we called off school Wednesday, which I hate to do, by the way."

To stop the spread of the virus, staffers set off flu-killing foggers in every classroom Wednesday to disinfect areas of common contact, Simeroth said.

Fumigation and other cleaning methods were used while students were away to keep more students from getting sick.

"They were going as far as taking buckets of markers and crayons and flash cards and taking them out and wiping them down one by one," he said.

"I've never seen a group come together and work as hard to make the classrooms safe and clean as I have seen in the last couple of days."

Jamie Dukes, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said schools are in charge of the decision to close because of absenteeism. The department hasn't received any information that would suggest further monitoring is needed, she said.

December typically brings an increase in multiple respiratory illnesses, as well as stomach bugs, Dukes said. Families in Yukon should take the same precautions as others, including washing hands often, covering coughs and sneezes and getting the flu shot, she said.

"This is the season for a lot of different illnesses," she said.

Central Elementary students should not return to school if they have not been clear of flu-like symptoms, such as fever, for at least 24 hours without medication, the school district reported on its website.

Simeroth had a message for parents.

"Do no send students who are sick to school; do not send students who have a fever to school," he said. "We encourage teachers to do the same thing. If they're ill or have a fever, it's OK to stay home if you're sick.

"That's the No. 1 thing that will help prevent the spread of flu."

Contributing: Staff Writer Meg Wingerter

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(c)2017 The Oklahoman

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