WILMINGTON — Wilmington students are enjoying a day off from school Friday — or at least the few who aren’t fighting off fever, chills, aches and who-knows-what.
The Wilmington City Schools (WCS) district became the most recent one in southwest Ohio to declare a district-wide sick day.
The district posted this message on Facebook Thursday evening:
“Throughout this evening, the WCS team has closely monitored teacher attendance for Friday.
“After careful consideration, due to an unusually high rate of both staff and student absences in a number of buildings, Wilmington City Schools will be closed on Friday, January 31st.
“We are hopeful that this time will allow both staff and students to rest, get healthy, and be ready for school on Monday.”
And teachers and staff certainly haven’t been immune to illnesses going around lately, either.
Curt Bone, Wilmington City Schools’ director of Business Operations, told the News Journal Friday the closure was due to staff continuing to get sick.
“You get to the point where you don’t have enough staffing,” said Bone. “The real issue is at our middle school; we had 20 percent of our staff out on Wednesday. Then yesterday [Thursday] it was 30 percent.
“It gets to the point where you can’t fill enough positions to fill without obstruction.”
Bone said student attendance percentages in the other school buildings had been in the lower 90s; the middle school’s attendance was down to about 83 percent.
While the middle school has had a higher sickness-related absence than the other schools, the decision was made to give students and staff a day off to rest up and get better.
At Clinton-Massie, the student absence rate is around 10 percent in the middle school and high school, and a little higher in the elementary, said Superintendent Matt Baker on Friday morning.
“The staff absences are also a concern because the substitute teacher pool is very low currently,” added Baker.
The Clinton-Massie superintendent said he had spoken to administrators Friday morning and district officials will track illness through the weekend with a conference call planned for Sunday night.
To help prevent the spread of illness, Baker said all the usual precautions are being taken — with increased cleaning in between routes on the buses.
Dean Lynch, superintendent of Blanchester schools, told the News Journal Putman Elementary has had about 25 percent of the students absent.
“Our custodians and staff have been taking precautionary measures with sanitizing doorknobs, bathrooms and such so we can get through the week,” said Lynch.
The other Blanchester schools have had low student and staff absences, according to Lynch.
Two weeks ago the Wilmington City Schools district shared what staff members had been doing to keep the district’s buildings as germ-free as possible:
Fighting the flu in our buildings
“So far, our attendance at WCS is holding steady, but surrounding schools are seeing an increase in flu cases. In October, we started to see an increase in illness absenteeism in one of our buildings. Student and staff absences increased in a larger number than usual. With the decreasing cost in new electrostatic sprayers, WCS set out to look for ways to help our staff keep buildings sanitized and reduce illness absences. In our buildings, here’s what we are doing to slow down the spread of viruses:
“When the students and staff have gone home for the afternoon/evening, our custodial staff beginning their cleaning procedures to prepare for everyone’s return.
“The shift begins with emptying wastebaskets, sweeping classrooms, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping and mopping hallways, and cleaning glass.
“Next comes sanitizing tabletops, desks, door handles, stair rails and touch points throughout a building.
“We purchased electrostatic sprayers.
“In addition to our regular daily/weekly cleaning, we started weekly electrostatic spraying/sanitizing of classrooms, restrooms, lunchrooms, and all building touch points. Within two weeks, the number of absences decreased greatly.
“Over the holiday break, we expanded electrostatic cleaning to all of our school buildings and finally to our buses in January.
“So what exactly are electrostatic sprayers? Electrostatic sprayers positive charge ions in a cleaning solution so that the solution will “cling to or wrap around” negative charge surfaces (Desks, chairs, door handles, walls, desk legs, etc) and start the sanitation process. The sprayers give an eco-friendly approach to disinfection by spraying up to 65 percent less chemicals per square foot. This process allows us to apply an even coating on all surfaces without the need to touch or wipe the surfaces and reduces cross-contamination from using a rag (dependent on solution spraying). This provides a fast and effective application method while using less solution.
“We cannot stop the passing of the flu from person to person, but we can certainly slow down the process of coming in contact with the virus within our school buildings.”