Nazareth Academy in La Grange Park closed by flu outbreak

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Students at Nazareth Academy were sent home Monday after a flu outbreak forced the school in suburban LaGrange Park to close. (WLS)

Students at Nazareth Academy were sent home Monday after a flu outbreak forced the school in suburban La Grange Park to close.

Officials say 25 percent of the school's 730 students were absent Monday because of the flu, and 10 staff members are also sick. The school is now closed until Thursday, Dec. 11.

On Monday night, door handles, bathrooms and classrooms at Nazareth Academy were preparing to get a deep clean.

"In my 21 years here, I haven't seen this much of an outbreak in such a short period of time," said Deborah Tracy, principal at Nazareth Academy.

It all began a couple weeks ago when a number of students came down with the flu, including members of the Nazareth football team, which just won a state championship. Players talked about being ill at a Wednesday victory rally.

"Before the game all had the flu, after the game, I was the sickest one. I can't believe I played through this. We came together and bonded. We all had a sickness and played through it," said Jonah Beauduy, a football player and senior at Nazareth Academy.

The number of ill students quickly grew to nearly 200 kids. On Monday, about a quarter of the student body called in sick, and adults were also affected.

"We had close to 18 faculty and staff, including our kitchen staff, almost all of the kitchen staff out sick today, and so very concerned about the food prep," said Tracy.

Some have been heading to the ER at Adventist Hinsdale Hospital, where doctors are seeing an earlier-than-usual spike in flu cases.

"It started really fast. It was, one shift, we weren't seeing any flu. All of a sudden, 10 patients with the flu. And so it started quickly about two or three weeks ago," said Dr. Nick Kettaneh, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.

"We're seeing from as young as six months old to as old as their mid-80s," said Dr. Michael S. Hohlastos, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital.

At Nazareth, classes are expected to resume on Thursday. Final exams are scheduled for next week.

"It's our hope that by giving some extra days of rest that we'll have a healthier student body and faculty and staff on Thursday, but we're taking each day as it comes," Tracy said.

The CDC recently warned of a severe flu season, in part, because several strains have mutated, and so this year's flu shot is a not a good match. Doctors still recommend, however, getting vaccinated.
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