Flu outbreak at school prompts clean-up

February 12, 2009 9:17:21 PM PST
A Catholic school on Chicago's Southwest Side will be closed Friday because of an outbreak of the flu. Two hundred students from St. John Fisher called in sick on Thursday, plus several teachers.

Cleaning crews are using bleach to help disinfect most every surface students come in contact with at St. John Fisher school. They want to make sure the building is clean.

"The fragrance of the month is 'eau de Lysol' because the whole building wafted of cleaning fluids," said Sister Jean McGrath, principal.

The school's basketball team is practicing.. But they are far from full strength. More than two hundred of the school's seven hundred or so students have called in sick every day so far this week. Andrew Wilkison missed three days with a high fever and cough.

"It's hard to introduce new things in math, especially in math. They have to be there," said Frank Ciezadlo, teacher.

So rather than teach to half full classrooms the administrators decided to close on Friday And re-open Tuesday after President's Day.

Doctors say keeping the students home may help them get healthy.

"In a closed environment with runny noses and coughs and sneezes...viruses of all kinds can travel pretty easily," said Dr. Anita Varkey, Loyola University Medical Center.

School officials say one of the problems is that students tend to come back from their illness too quickly while they're still contagious. By having four consecutive days off, they hope to solve that issue.


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