, Corbin, KY

Local News

February 4, 2007

Whitley schools close due to illness

By Fred Petke / Staff Writer

Wintry weather wasn’t the only factor that closed the Whitley County school system Thursday and Friday.

A wave of flu-like symptoms throughout the district sickened enough students and staff that having class wasn’t possible, Whitley County Superintendent Lonnie Anderson said.

The illness that’s been making the circuit among county schools is not flu, but something else.

“What’s been going around, according to the health department and physicians I talked to, is not flu but flu-like symptoms,” Anderson said.

The schools’ nurses provide flu shots to the staff, but those shots are designed to fight flu, not the present virus making its way through the county, he said.

“The problem seems to manifest itself in one school then another,” Anderson said.

By the middle of the week, district attendance was hovering around 90 percent for students and less for staff, he said.

“We decided to take a couple days... and see if a four-day break wouldn’t help us with attendance,” Anderson said.

“Any time the attendance falls below 90 percent, it’s a red flag to us.”

Low attendance affects the district’s average daily attendance, which in turn cuts into the district’s funding. There is a point where it’s not feasible to have school.

This week, Whitley County had problems with having enough healthy teachers and bus drivers for the system to function, Anderson said.

“It makes it difficult to have school,” he said.

Barbourville Independent School closed late last week due to illness. Friday, officials in Knox County and Corbin schools said there had not been significant illness problems so far.

“Today, there’s a lot out but it’s mostly due to the two hour delay and the snow,” Corbin Assistant Superintendent Brenda Hammons said.

In recent years, Whitley County has closed about once a year due to excessive illness, Anderson said.

Fred Petke can be reached at fpetke@

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