The Gulf County School district announced schools would be closed Friday, January 26. It’s the latest sign of a harsh flu season.
Gulf County school district says it’s closing its schools to give sick students and teachers the opportunity to recover. A message from school superintendent Jim Norton said influenza-like cases have significantly impacted the school system. This comes days after a 12 year old boy in West Palm Beach died of the flu.
“We have been very fortunate and, God willing, we won’t have a death in [Gulf] County, but I’d rather err on the side of caution," Superintendent Jim Norton remarked. He said the harsh flu season has been difficult for his small school district.
“We have 1,902 total students K through 12, and we have between 20 and 25 percent out, and that requisite amount of faculty and staff out. It just makes it mighty tough.”
It’s not just Florida that’s been hit hard. A CDC report showed the flu in its second week was widespread across the entire continental United States. That’s the first time in 13 years of surveillance they’ve observed such extensive infection. Norton hopes to prevent local spread by having students stay home for a long weekend. His county’s schools will also have on-site vaccinations on Monday.
He consulted with local healthcare providers about the school closure and vaccinations. “The medical professionals said if you get this flu shot, even if you contract the flu it certainly cuts the duration of it," he said.
The Florida Department of Health will be administering those vaccines to students who have signed consent forms from their parents.