All Sections

Home | Health

Entire Whitefield Elementary School takes a sick day Friday

Sunday News Correspondent

February 02. 2018 1:49PM
Whitefield Elementary School was closed Friday due to illnesses sickening the students and staff. (John Koziol/Sunday News Correspondent)

WHITEFIELD — Illnesses that have sickened students and staff closed Whitefield Elementary School Friday.

Principal Michael Cronin said the goal is to reopen Monday after the 299-student school was disinfected Friday.

The school serves pre-Kindergarten through Grade 8.

The White Mountains Regional School District announced the closure on its Facebook page Thursday afternoon, saying about 15 staff members and 71 students were out sick Thursday.

Those numbers represent about a quarter of the staff and student body.

“What we’re hearing from primary-care physicians and parents reporting back to us is a number of different things, a few confirmed flu cases, a few cases of strep throat and a what is being termed a viral-respiratory thing that’s testing negative for the flu virus,” said Cronin, in his sixth year as head of WES.

Students from Whitefield, Carroll, Jefferson and Dalton attend the school.

Of the staff absent at WES on Thursday, 11 complained of various symptoms while four stayed home to tend to sick children, Cronin said.

Cronin said it became clear Thursday that there might not be enough adults to safely operate the school and the decision was made to close the school for Friday.

Superintendent Marion Anastasia, the school’s nurse and state health officials were consulted, Cronin said

The closure will give students and staff time to rest and recover, Cronin said, and was necessary because it was unlikely enough substitute teachers could have been found in time for classes on Friday.

Maintenance personnel spent Friday disinfecting door knobs and handles, faucets, tables, chairs and railings — “all the surfaces that have frequent hand contact,” Cronin said. They also set off foggers in common areas.

Cronin said the unexpected day off likely won’t extend the school year.

Anastasia, who has been an educator for 35 years, said the closure is the first she’s seen due to illness.

“It was when the numbers began to escalate that it became a little alarming for us,” said Anastasia, “because we need to appropriately educate and supervise these students.”

She said district officials are monitoring other schools and that while absenteeism is up at Lancaster Elementary School among students, it is not among staff and teachers, while at White Mountains Regional School, the numbers are not “that high at all,” said Anastasia.

Elementary Health Whitefield

Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required