Several school systems around the state have temporarily closed because a number of students and teachers have come down with the flu or a stomach bug in the past few weeks.
The latest school system to be added to that list includes our local Marion County school district.
Officials with the Marion County Board of Education central office in Jasper say that absentee numbers at just one of the district’s elementary schools ranged between 85 and 90 on Tuesday, with similar numbers across the county at the district’s four elementary, two middle, and three high schools from a variety of illness ranging from some confirmed flu cases and similar respiratory illness to a gastrointestinal “stomach bug”.
Other schools in the area that decided to close include Bradley County and Cleveland City — both closed for the remainder of the week, and Polk County which was closed on Tuesday and will remain closed on Wednesday. Rhea County and other districts have also recently been closed due to illness.
Tennessee Health Department spokeswoman Shelley Walker says officials are not aware of any illness outbreaks, but cautions it is still flu season. A map from the Centers for Disease Control shows that Tennessee has been one of the states hardest hit by an influenza-like illness.
While some districts have been hit harder than others, some haven’t seen the same impact.
In Marion County lies the special school district in Richard City where you’ll find Richard Hardy Memorial School. RHMS officials say school there is open as scheduled this week as the absentee level has not been to the level of concern seen in the Marion school system. Local preschool program, Sequatchie Valley Head Start, which usually follows the Marion district’s closures for inclement weather has also announced that they will remain open as the illness concern has not met the necessary levels for considering a closing at this time.
The Marion County Board of Education and school district includes Marion County High, Jasper Middle, Jasper Elementary South Pittsburg High, South Pittsburg Elementary, Whitwell High, Whitwell Middle, Whitwell Elementary, Monteagle Elementary School, and Central Prep Academy.