Both the Scott County School System and the Oneida Special School District have canceled classes for Thursday, Friday and Monday, in an effort to combat widespread illness that has caused absenteeisms to soar.
Influenza has been prevalent in local schools since students returned from Christmas break, along with strep throat and stomach virus, among other illnesses.
In the Scott County School System, absenteeism began at around 10 percent on Wednesday, but students were being signed out throughout the county as the day progressed. An employee of the school system said that lots of staff members were out sick, and there weren’t enough substitute teachers to cover classes because the subs were also sick.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention report that flu-like illness is high throughout Tennessee, as is the case throughout the entirety of the southern U.S. Nationwide, the CDC said that severe flu — including hospitalizations and deaths — is not high at this point in the flu season.
The Tennessee Department of Health reported that the percentage of outpatients being treated for influenza-like illness at the state’s sentinel clinic sites was 8.62 percent. The CDC’s baseline rate is 2.4 percent. There have been eight pediatric flu deaths in Tennessee thus far in the 2019-2020 flu season.
Statewide, the percentage of patients being treated for flu-like illness has actually dropped off after reaching a peak of about 15 percent in late December.
The definition of flu-like illness is a fever in excess of 100 degrees, along with cough or sore throat, in the absence of another known cause. About 10 percent of flu swabs are currently testing positive.
Scott High School Principal Melissa Rector confirmed on social media that Scott High’s home basketball games against Alcoa on Friday and Harriman on Monday will still be played. Monday’s game will be senior night for spring sports athletes.
While it hasn’t been confirmed by local school administrators, it’s almost certain that the days won’t have to be made up. Scott County still has 12 of its 13 built-in snow days remaining. Oneida has all 13 of its built-in days remaining. And, with numerous school systems throughout the state canceling classes due to illness, it’s likely that the state would forgive those days even if the banked days weren’t applied.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Cumberland Plateau will also be closed Thursday through Monday. The club said that staff will report on those days to clean and disinfect the facility. Basketball practices and games have also been canceled and will be rescheduled.