Increasing Student Illness Closes Forest Area Community Schools Friday

“It was challenging. It’s always challenging to cancel school,” says Superintendent, Josh Rothwell.

Nearly 20 percent of students are absent from a Northern Michigan school.

On Friday, they won’t even open for class.

Forest Area Community Schools says many of their students have been fighting the cold and flu all week.

Teachers and staff too.

9 and 10’s Megan Atwood and photojournalist John Harrington found out how they made the tough decision to close for the day.

“We had about 20 percent of our student population was absent and that number was growing so we thought it would be in our best interest to send the kids home for an extended weekend,” says Josh Rothwell, Superintendent for Forest Area Community Schools.

At Forest Area Community Schools, classes won’t be in session on Friday, February 17th. With too many sick kids, the school thought it best to call off.

“Let the kids get better, we are going to have our cleaning staff come in over the weekend and do some cleaning here so we can get everything spic and span,” Superintendent Rothwell says. He goes on, “It’s February in Northern Michigan so you know, I think kids get the flu, common cold, viruses and congestion.”

But it’s impacting students and teachers too.

“Staff was standing pretty strong, we had some people that didn’t feel too good, but they were trying to fight through it but then today, as the kids were the staff was starting to struggle too. If we only have half the class those teachers are going to have to reteach anyways,” the superintendent goes on to say.

Sue Ingersoll is a student aide and parent. She says her son Kyle has been out of school all week long.

“Spent pretty much all weekend in bed, and it just went downhill from there. Fevers, aches, pains, chills.  He’s been out. He tried to come in a couple of hours yesterday, and just didn’t work,” Ingersoll says.

But she’s seen how sick kids have been at school, too.

Ingersoll goes on to say, “You’d see kids in the hallway that say ‘I don’t feel good Mrs. Ingersoll’ and so we’d send them to the office and call home. My son’s friends, none of them were here for most of the week. The kids were just dropping.”?

The superintendent tells us come Tuesday morning, after the long weekend, they hope to see students back in the classrooms.

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