HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — An increase in illnesses and decrease in student attendance has prompted multiple schools across Hampton Roads to close their doors and deep clean their facilities.
According to the Virginia Department of Health’s most recent Weekly Influenza Report, released on Thursday, the state has spent six weeks at the widespread level of flu activity. Widespread is defined as an outbreak in three or more regions.
Last year, the Centers for Disease Control says 80,000 people died from flu complications and 900,000 were hospitalized. It was one of the deadliest flu seasons that doctors had seen in 40 years.
10 On Your Side has confirmed at least four area schools that closed this week in an effort to keep students from getting sick
Below are the schools that have closed in the last week for reasons related to increased illness:
Lou Goldberg, St. Matthew’s principal, says the school was closed on Thursday, Feb. 7 and will be closed again on Friday, Feb. 8 for a scheduled parent-teacher conference day.
Christ the King Catholic School in Norfolk:
Star of the Sea Catholic School in Virginia Beach:
Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in Suffolk is also closed:
According to the CDC, Virginia’s influenza activity level is currently designated as “widespread.” This includes confirmed cases of influenza as well as influenza-like illnesses (ILI). Over the last 24-hours, our levels of absenteeism have been increasing significantly. While our students, faculty and staff have been encouraged to take preventative actions to stop the spread of germs and our housekeeping staff has been diligent in deep cleaning surfaces and items of “frequent touch,” it has been difficult to stop the rapid spread of illness over the last 24-hours. To ensure that our students, faculty and staff have ample time to recover and to allow our housekeeping staff time to thoroughly disinfect our facilities, NSA will be closed on Friday, February 8.
All school activities scheduled for Friday and Saturday at NSA will be rescheduled and virtual learning will not be expected. Off campus athletic events on Saturday will take place as scheduled; however, parents should use their best judgment as to whether their child is well enough to participate.
Thank you in advance for your cooperation and for your understanding. As always, the health and wellness of our NSA community is our top priority. We hope that this short break will allow everyone to return to school on Monday morning rested and ready to learn!”
School administrators said it was a tough decision, but they say student health and safety was the main concern here.
10 On Your Side was told the number of students missing school because of the flu or strep throat became too much to ignore.
Assistant Principal Bonnie Schneider said there are 214 students at Christ the King School in Norfolk, but on Monday a good chunk of them were absent.
“We had about 41 absent at the beginning of the day and it probably climbed to over 50 by the end of the day,” Schneider said.
The school decided to close on Tuesday to deep clean the campus.
“The teachers cleaned the classrooms, we came in and bleached the floors and our cleaning staff bleached the bathrooms and the common areas,” Schneider said.
Star of the Sea Catholic School in Virginia Beach was also closed the same day.
St. Matthews School in Virginia Beach kept students home Thursday and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy will be closed on Friday because of illnesses.
“The flu can live on surfaces for 24-48 hours so it’s extremely important for our teachers in our classrooms to make sure they’re Lysol-ing everything down,” said Physician Assistant Keshia Brown.
Brown is the Director of Clinical Operations for Velocity Urgent Care. She said their waiting rooms have been busy.
“Today alone we saw 10 people with the flu. Type A has been the most common that we’ve seen here in the office,” she said.
Brown encourages frequent hand washing, sneezing or coughing into your arm instead of your hand and practicing good health habits.
However, she said the first line of defense is getting your flu shot.
“The flu season is typically from October to March so we’re in early February. It’s still not too late to get your flu shot.”
Flu symptoms include fever, headache, chills, body aches, sore throat, and runny nose so if you have any of those, you should go to a doctor.
Christ the King said it’s instructing students to wash their hands while at school and they’re asking parents to remind their kids while at home.
If your school has closed for this reason, let us know firstname.lastname@example.org.