Why are schools closing this week? Rising flu and respiratory infections

One-fifth of an Alabama district's faculty and nearly 20% of students were absent this week due to illness.

COVID, swatting hoaxes, social media threats—now add outbreaks of flu in schools to the list of concerns that are forcing administrators to shift to remote learning.

“Flu cases are rising with alarming concern” at Alexander City Schools in Alabama, which went to remote learning on Tuesday and Wednesday. One-fifth of the district’s faculty and nearly 20% of students were absent this week due to illness. These numbers were double what the district recorded at the end of last week, it said in a statement, adding that the closed schools are being disinfected in an effort to prevent further spread.

Just a few hours away in the same state, Demopolis City Schools is also operating remotely on Tuesday and Wednesday “due to the high volume of students with the flu.” Decatur City Schools, also in Alabama, closed Austinville Elementary School on Tuesday and Wednesday due to flu and RSV outbreaks, WHNT reported.

Reports of an early flu season and the spread of other respiratory infections in children, including RSV, are rising nationwide, prompting health officials to more aggressively urge families to get flu shots.

In North Carolina, two buildings in Stanly County Schools are closed Wednesday and Thursday for remote learning due to “high incidences of respiratory illnesses.” Aquadale Elementary and South Stanly Middle school—along with the buses that serve the schools—will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, the district says.

In Virginia, nearly half of the students at Stafford High School in Fredericksburg were absent last week with flu-like and gastrointestinal symptoms but the building remained open. About 690 students were absent on Monday, WUSA reported.

There is also a looming fear over a “twindemic,” and quite possibly a “tripledemic,” as health officials throw COVID and the respiratory virus RS. into the mix.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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