Schools close for illness

Coffee County and Manchester City School Districts announced on Thursday they will be closed Friday, Jan. 24 and Monday, Jan. 27 due to illness.

Manchester City Schools’ Carolyn Davison said that city closure was due to the high number of students and staff illnesses.

ESP will be closed both days for the districts.


‘The absence situation was taking a dramatic turn for the worse’

Director of Coffee County Schools Charles Lawson said there’s not a set percentage of absences that has to be met before a school district decides to close schools for illness.

“Other factors in our consideration were the availability of staff, substitutes, and bus drivers,” Lawson said. “The adults in the district were being affected just as the students were.”

However, added Lawson, the percentage of absenteeism had been climbing almost daily since returning from Christmas break.

“As of Thursday (Jan. 23) morning, our absentee rate was just about 9.5%,” Lawson said. “Coordinated school health was working with school nurses to track students who were ill and confirmed flu cases.

“Building-level administration and school secretaries were tracking how many students were checking out and leaving early. Between the start of school and 12:30 pm on Thursday, 85 additional students had checked out of Coffee County schools.”

This brought our absentee rate up to approximately 11.4% and indicated that the absence situation was taking a dramatic turn for the worse, said Lawson.

“After conducting conversations within the district office and consulting with Manchester City Schools about their conditions, a decision was reached to close schools around the weekend and try to get four consecutive days where transmission of germs could be minimized and affected students could recover. This decision was made shortly after 1:30 on Thursday afternoon,” Lawson said. “We wanted to have enough time to alert principals and give parents the maximum time to adjust to the school closures. Building-level administrators were to coordinate with teachers and custodial staff to disinfect as much of the schools as possible to minimize exposure when students return next week.”

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