Ardmore City Schools is the next local school district to close temporarily to fight back against widespread illness, making for a very short school week.  

As of 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, the school district had 704 students out sick. That makes 132 at Ardmore High School, 229 at Ardmore Middle School, 74 at Charles Evans Elementary School, 89 at Jefferson Elementary School, 69 at Will Rogers Elementary School and 111 at Lincoln Elementary School. ACS Superintendent Kim Holland said that’s about 30 percent of the student body.

“That number, by now, is closer to 800,” Holland said Tuesday afternoon. “We’ve spoken with health professionals, and they’ve said the only thing they can recommend is canceling school, sterilizing all our buildings and trying to get ahead of this thing.”

Students left school early throughout the day as parents picked them up. At Lincoln, teachers combined some third grade classes because teachers were absent and substitutes weren’t available.

“Our subs are also calling in sick,” Holland said. “So, we’ve got a problem.”

Holland said it’s the first time in his long career in education that he’s had to cancel school because of widespread illness.

“We had a flood at the middle school and had to cancel school, but that was all,” Holland said. “And from what I heard from the people who’ve been here a long time, they haven’t done this in years.”

Holland said principals and school nurses are attributing the bulk of the absences to influenza, but the school is not tracking and documenting each case.

Dickson Public School had to shut down due to the flu last year, and last week, Lone Grove Schools were forced to take similar measures after students and staff came down with influenza, strep throat and stomach flu.

“We don’t ever have this kind of sickness at our schools,” Holland said. “You’ll have episodes where you’ll have a couple hundred kids miss, but nothing like this.”

School will be cancelled Wednesday and Thursday, and was already canceled for Friday because of a teacher professional development day. During the closure, staff will use Clorox 360 sanitation machines to sanitize school buildings. Holland said the machines have been in use since flu season began.

“By Monday, everything should be the most germ-free environment you can be in,” Holland said. “I just hope kids and adults don’t get any sicker. We’re hoping this will break the cycle.”