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Illness prompts East Tennessee school closures

(WVLT)
Published: Feb. 2, 2018 at 5:39 PM EST
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As flu continues to impact student attendance, several schools around East Tennessee are shutting down to allow students and staff to heal, as well as to disinfect campuses.

"It's scary," parent Tiffany Brown said.

In Newport, Tenn., Superintendent Sandra Burchette had to shut school down because of illness.

"When we reached 12 percent, I made the decision to contact the Commissioner of Education to see if we could use two of our stockpile days for illness to get a chance for the students and staff to recuperate, and it was granted," said Burchette said Friday.

Brown told Local 8 News she keeps her daughter home from school whenever she's sick to prevent others from catching a cold, so she's glad school systems share the concern.

"Me personally, I think it's good because I wouldn't want it to spread," Brown said.

Schools are wiping down desks, counters and floors, but Newport Grammar School bought a fogger to clean even more thoroughly.

"After the custodians have disinfected the room, they're able to go in and fog the room, and disinfect it also, so it's kind of a a double way to take care of the germs," Burchette said.

Doctors said the spray and wipes are a double dose of disinfection.

"It should get rid of it if they have used chemicals to spray and wipe and clean," said Audrey Smith, a medical doctor. "We're doing the best we can to decrease the spread of the flu virus."

Newport isn't the only school closing down, Knox County schools announced Friday that they would be closing Monday and Tuesday.

On their website, they cited flu as the reason for the closures. Of student attendance, they said, "We are seeing a decline in student and staff attendance. As a result, we have decided to close school."

Knox County School's custodial and maintenance staff will work during that time to disinfect classrooms and common room areas.