Dubuque Community School District closes school for first time d - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque Community School District closes school for first time due to illness

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

With temperatures expected to hit the 60's on Friday, you'd expect an elementary school playground to be bustling with activity.

But thanks to a particularly ferocious bout of flu, it, along with the rest of Eisenhower Elementary School, was empty--and eerily quiet.

With 23-28 percent of their students out with the flu all week, district officials made the call to cancel school Friday to give the building some time to air out, and some extra time for its students, and the 22 staff members who fell ill, time to get better.

"It's not uncommon during flu season to have a building peak maybe 15, 16 maybe even up to 20 percent, but not very commonly," said Rhonda Simpson, health and wellness coordinator for Dubuque Community Schools.  "And we have never closed a school due to illness before."

She said more than 120 students were out sick or sent home Monday.  That number jumped to more than 150 by Wednesday.

"Usually it'll peak in a couple of days and then we start to see the numbers go down again, but we weren't seeing that Thursday," Simpson said.

She consulted with city, county and state health officials to make that call.

"Nobody really knows why it's happening, but we do have influenza B active in the state, so it's possible," she said.

Wesley Harwood and his sister Tatum were out riding their bikes around the school parking lot today.  Wesley said it's been a strange week with so many in his class absent.

"We have to change a lot of things around because lots of people have missed lots of days and they have to do the stuff we've done," he said.

Liz Lawler runs a daycare just down the street from the school.  She said the school made the right call.

"It is pretty strange, but if it keeps the disease from spreading and is a preventative measure, then I'm all for it."

Simpson said the district ramped up their custodial staff to disinfect the school this week.  She also said the nice weather helped, allowing them to open windows and air the school out.

For now, the school is closed to students and staff alike.  And luckily, no students have been hospitalized with this episode of the flu.

School will resume as normal Monday.

 

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