JONESPORT-BEALS, Maine — Due to absences that topped 50 percent Monday at Jonesport-Beals High School, school officials closed the three local schools for two days, hoping to curb the spread of flu symptoms through staff and students.
Superintendent Colleen Haskell said the school was closed Tuesday due to flu and Wednesday due to the Veterans Day holiday.
“We hope that when everyone returns Thursday, we will have broken the cycle,” she said Tuesday morning.
Haskell said she has no way of knowing how many students and staff are sick with the seasonal flu, H1N1, normal colds and sniffles, or are just staying home to avoid exposing themselves to other people who may be ill.
Haskell said there are three schools in the Jonesport-Beals system with a total of 260 students. She said all students share the same school buses and many are siblings. The youngest students appeared to be getting sick first and then it spread throughout the school community, she said.
“We started last week with a 15 percent absence rate and within two days we were at 25 percent,” she said. When the rate hit 50 percent Monday at the high school, including four teachers at the elementary level, she decided to act.
“I don’t think all of the 50 percent had the flu,” she said. Many parents opted to keep children home and even substitute teachers were refusing to come into the schools.
“We have a seasonal flu clinic set for Thursday [at the high school] and we are hoping to get 100 doses of H1N1 vaccine,” she said.
Meanwhile, Haskell said anyone not feeling well should not return to school Thursday, especially if they are running a fever.
“Stay home,” she advised people who are feeling sick.