McLean County Public School were closed on Friday, Jan. 17 due to low attendance rates due to seasonal illnesses, according to an announcement by the school board.
Assistant Superintendent Ashley Troutman said the schools had lower than usual attendance rates as a result of the flu and other seasonal illnesses, which became lower as the week continued.
He said the usual attendance rate is around 95% for the district, but rates decreased more each day.
“Usually, 90% or below is when you really start looking at it. Our typical attendance on a normal day, 95% is kind of normal,” Troutman said. “For six or seven days, we had multiple schools below 90%, you know, 88 or 87%.”
He said while the district-wide attendance did not drop below 90%, the rates were dropping more each day for more than a week with several individual schools below the 90% threshold.
The school board decided with students also being out for Martin Luther King Jr. Day the following Monday, it would be a good opportunity for students to have a four-day weekend to recover, according to Troutman.
“Since it was a four-day weekend and we knew we was going to be off on Monday for school, it would be a good opportunity for custodians to be able to get in there and clean and hopefully all of the flu-like stuff can just die out,” he said.
On Tuesday, Troutman said attendance has been much improved from last week with the four-day weekend.
“We had a lot better attendance today; not at our normal 95%, but I think we were at about 92,” he said.
The extra day off for students will be made-up on Friday, March 20, which schools were originally scheduled to have off.
Troutman also said schools are discussing healthy habits for students to stay clean during flu-season as far as hand-washing and not sharing clothing.
“The general rules is always being extra careful … about washing their hands after you’ve touched door knobs and water fountains and not to be putting your hands in your mouth,” he said.
The school board also encourages parents not to send children to school if they are sick and to keep them home, especially if they have a fever or display any flu-like symptoms, according to Troutman.