After a week of fighting flu, strep throat and stomach viruses, Lone Grove Schools will call in sick today and tomorrow, but it’s not the students who’ve been hit the hardest.
Lone Grove Superintendent Meri Jayne Miller said she and school administrators have been monitoring the situation since last week, when an unusual number of students and staff began to get sick. She said by Monday, the situation became unmanageable.
“This is effecting a lot of adults,” Miller said. “We don’t have enough people to cover classes. It’s hitting us hard.”
About 296 of Lone Grove Schools’ 1,433 students are out sick, but Miller said the sheer number of faculty and staff that are sick is unusual.
“When you just have someone supervising kids, there’s no learning happening,” Miller said. “So we need to shut down and get this under control.”
Miller said so far, no neighboring schools appear to have been hit as hard, and Lone Grove has rarely if ever closed due to illness in the past.
“I hope everybody heeds the warnings,” Miller said. “I’m concerned by the significant number of adults we have out, the kids as well.”
Miller said staff will continue cleaning and sanitizing the school through the weekend, and class will resume on Monday.
Carter County Health Department Administrative Director Mendy Spohn said this is the right time of year for flu cases to spike, and closing down a school can be a good way to mitigate a malady.
“It’s a social distancing measure,” Spohn said. “When you have kids cooped up, it can spread.”
Casey Van Woerkom, an epidemiologist with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, said influenza and strep throat can have somewhat similar symptoms, but strep isn’t tracked and monitored the same way the flu is.
“With strep, it’s a bacteria that’s causing it,” Van Woerkom said. “It’s more common with children, and when adults get it, it’s usually going to be adults who are around children, work with them or have kids of their own.”
The most common symptoms of strep throat are a sudden sore throat, pain during swallowing, swollen lymph nodes and patches or pus on one’s tonsils.
“It’s that time of year,” Van Woerkom said. “Respiratory viruses and flu will go around.”