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January 23, 2013

Duncan Superintendent closes Plato Elementary after flu outbreak

Breaking News: Web Exclusive

DUNCAN — Plato Elementary School will be closed Thursday and Friday because of the flu. Duncan Public School District Superintendent Sherry Labyer made the decision today after visiting the school this morning. Her decision was based on the increasing number of children leaving school because they are sick. Four checked out of school this morning.

Labyer contacted The Banner at 1 p.m. and said by the end of the school day, all parents of Plato students will be contacted either by phone or email.

The school support and certified staff will still be required to attend Thursday and Friday as the school goes into a disinfectant operation mode.

“This has never before happened during my tenure. We did not take this decision lightly, but safety of the students is our first priority,” Labyer said. “The parents are calling in with the type of flu their children have. They have type A and type B. This is respiratory, too. What we have to do is try to eradicate what is going on.”

The Banner first reported on the issue in today’s printed edition. After speaking with Labyer around 1:15 p.m. Tuesday, 10 more children had left school because of the flu.

“We really started on the decline yesterday. We were at 78 percent and by the time school was out, 10 more went home. It got really critical.”

The school has 316 students enrolled, but that number was down by 78 students, with a good majority of them in the kindergarten classes.

Only one teacher and one support staff member have been out sick though.

Labyer said she based her decision today on what she saw and how many students were leaving by noon.

“If any more went home, I was going to make that decision,” she said.

She said that the health department was contacted and also a state epidemiologist. Based on school guidelines created by Labyer and school RN Chris Watkins in 2009 after an H1N1 outbreak, Plato is considered a Level 4, which is determined by 10 percent or more of the student body in a particular campus being out for illness.

"We are at 25 percent out," Labyer said today.

The Banner will provide a complete story in Thursday’s printed edition.

 

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