Login NowClose 
Sign In to chronicle-tribune.com           
Forgot Password
or if you have not registered since 8/22/18
Click Here to Create an Account

Flu temporarily closes Eastbrook South

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

Sickness hit Eastbrook South Elementary School this week, closing the school on Tuesday for sanitation.

Superintendent Brett Garrett said the decision was made Monday afternoon, when they reached a high percentage of absent students.

“We got to the point where 150 of our students out of 490 were absent so just right around 30 to 31 percent,” he said.

Garrett said the school corporation is required to report to the state if the absences reach greater than 20 percent, so they did. The school contacted district nurse Jodi Brodkorb and principal Miriam Dalton, who made a local decision to temporarily close the school for the day while the rest of the schools in the corporation carried on as scheduled.

Brodkorb said based on the feedback she has received, parents have been able to get their kids to the doctor to be tested, and it seems like the majority of cases have been Influenza A positive. She said they have seen a few pop-up cases at the schools this year, but it’s mostly been mild with a couple of cases at a time. So when Monday hit and that many students were out, it came as a bit of a surprise, says Bordkorb.

She said she spoke with some teachers who have been at the elementary school for more than 20 years, and they told her they’ve never had so many students absent before.

The school was approved to use the day as an eLearning day, however, Garrett said they decided against it.

“We thought if one third are sick, whether they do it at home or school, they wouldn’t feel up to it, so we decided not to go that route,” he said.

In the meantime, Garrett said sanitation crews made up of Eastbrook maintenance and custodial staff were sent into the building Monday night and again on Tuesday to make sure the school is doing everything possible to create an environment helpful to both recovering students and healthy students. School bus seats were also sanitized, he added.

The plan is to reopen the school on Wednesday, Garrett noted.

A waiver will be submitted to the Department of Education in hopes that the corporation will not have to make up the missed school day. Garrett said a waiver would not be considered if all Eastbrook schools were shut down for the day, but since it was only one elementary school, it would be more of a hardship to the entire corporation if an extra day was added on.

While a closing due to widespread sickness hasn’t occurred under Garrett’s leadership, he said he’s had to submit waivers in the past for last year’s natural gas leak on the main campus and 4-5 years ago for a power outage at an elementary school, and he said the waivers were approved both times.

He said he’s not completely certain when they will hear back on the waiver’s approval, adding it could be later in the day on Tuesday or later in the week.

Garrett said the situation is not ideal but he appreciates everyone’s efforts and hopes that people will get rest and back to full health.