School closes after hundreds of kids get sick

October 20, 2009 (ST. CHARLES, Ill.) More than forty percent of the student body is out sick. That's more than 900 students.

The school will be closed through Friday, October 23.

A soccer game was the last school event of the week at St. Charles East High School. All other activities will be cancelled or postponed. With nearly half the students out sick on Tuesday, District 303 administrators say they had little choice but to cancel school through Friday, October 23.

"It's not only about protecting everybody but about reducing that ability to spread," said Dr. Don Schlomann, superintendent, District 303.

St. Charles East is the only school in the district with high numbers of absences. No one has tested positive for the H1N1 virus at this point but they suspect that is causing a lot of the illnesses.

"A lot of students were sick and the teachers couldn't give us anything new because so many were gone," said Sarah Odell, student.

And the decision means canceling or postponing extracurricular activities including the school's big football game against cross town rival North on Friday.

"I heard more than half the kids were out today, something like that, and so what option do you have but to close?" said parent Brian Kramer.

Kane County health officials say they would normally recommend keeping schools open to avoid panic.

"I think parents are being cautious here and, again, I just want to urge parents not to kind of go over the top, so to speak," said Dr. Paul Kuehnert, executive director, Kane Co. Health Department.

The district still expects teachers and staff to come to work for the next three days. They will ask them to call each of the school's 2,300 students each day to monitor how they're doing.

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