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Illnesses close Walworth school

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Catherine W. Idzerda
October 20, 2009
— Put away your textbooks, go home and come back when you're better.

On Monday, officials at Walworth Joint School District No. 1 announced they were closing the Walworth elementary and middle schools, which are in the same building at 121 Beloit St., for the remainder of this week because of "high absenteeism among students and staff."


More than 30 percent of students called in sick or were sent home sick, said District Administrator Pam Knorr. Four teachers and three teachers aides also were sick, she said.


"I think it's a combination of illnesses—colds, regular type-A influenza and H1N1," Knorr said.


There are five confirmed cases of H1N1 flu, more commonly known as swine flu, at the school, she said.


Officials decided to close the school after consulting with Walworth County Health Officer Pat Grove, the Department of Public Instruction and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. They also talked with the district's medical adviser.


"It was really a collaborative thing," Knorr said.


A large number of students were absent Friday, and staff thought the weekend would disrupt the spread of illness.


"Since the beginning of the school year, we've done everything we can to prevent the spread of illness," Knorr said. "We've disinfected the math manipulatives. We've had so many disinfections of tabletops, pencil sharpeners and doorknobs. The teachers have been so good about stressing hand washing. We have hand sanitizers everyplace."


Wednesday is a teacher in-service day, so students will miss only three days of school—today, Thursday and Friday.


It's unclear if the Department of Public Instruction will require the days be made up.


School will resume Monday, Oct. 26.



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