Vernon ISD closed for cleaning

Vernon ISD Superintendent Jeff Byrd said the decision to close down the schools in the district was not made lightly, but it had to be done, so every campus can be thoroughly disinfected. Vernon ISD has been dealing with absences due to illnesses for some time and it got to the point where the school board and administrators decided to do something about it.

“Yesterday one of our campuses had about 30 percent of their population either sick or that were sent home,” Byrd said. “As a district we were somewhere between 18-22 percent, same scenario, they either didn't come to school or we had to send them home sick.”               

Germblast, a company from Lubbock, is now in town and they are sanitizing all of the buildings in the district. They started with the elementary schools today.

“When we go in, we start by wiping all the touch points down,” said Chance Brown, the Acute Care Supervisor for Germblast. “Then we come back and spray a disinfectant over it, which will kill everything that is there for the most part and when that is over we come back and spray a protective layer. That is good for about 90 days depending on the amount of traffic in the area.”

Brown said the three hours they will spend just taking care of the elementary schools will be worth it.

“It's extremely effective,” Brown said. “A lot of schools use us four times a year. We go in every three months, spray them down. Take care of them. Their attendance rates go up because of it.”

 “The feedback we have gotten is positive. There are no guarantees in life but at this point it obviously isn't going to hurt us,” Byrd said.

Byrd said he knows closing the schools on short notice can be challenging for parents.

 “First and foremost is safety obviously,” Byrd said. “We are well aware of the hardships that it creates for parents. I'm a parent. On short notice, a lot of parents had to make alternate plans and for that we apologize. We are doing the best we can to make this a safe environment for them to come back to school.”

The plan is for the crews to tackle the junior high and high school tomorrow with the school reopening on Friday. They will make sure they notify parents as soon as possible if that plan changes.

Absences from flu and flu-like illness are spiraling in the Wichita Falls I.S.D. also.

 Last week's numbers, which was a 4 -day school week, surpassed by hundreds those for the entire month of December.

In December, the district's nursing staff reported 23 cases of flu and a total of 143 absences for flu-like symptoms. The district said there were 253 confirmed cases of flu in students. And 423 students were sent home with the flu-like illness.

Two other Texas districts that closed for a week because of high flu rates among students reopened yesterday. About a half dozen districts in Oklahoma canceled classes for a day or more in the last week.

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