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Rural districts cancel classes as students struggle with flu and other bugs

School nurses are on the front lines of preventing the spread of flu. Tolar and Lipan schools are canceled for the rest of the week as students and teachers struggle with flu and other illnesses.
School nurses are on the front lines of preventing the spread of flu. Tolar and Lipan schools are canceled for the rest of the week as students and teachers struggle with flu and other illnesses. jlmarshall@star-telegram

School leaders in neighboring districts in Hood County canceled classes for Thursday and Friday because of a rising number of students and staff being out sick.

Tolar’s school superintendent, Travis Stilwell, said the number of illnesses has been rising since last week, hitting a high of 13 percent of the district’s 780 students Wednesday.

“The sickness has been especially rough on our elementary campus,” he told the Star-Telegram in an email.

Thursday and Friday classes at the Lipan school district have also been canceled as students struggle with flu and strep throat, said Superintendent Cindy Edwards. She said some students have been hit with both illnesses.

“We had 80 students out today,” said Edwards. The school district has 396 students.

Health authorities have warned against this year’s Texas flu outbreak. Widespread flu activity has been documented in cities across Texas, and area school nurses have been working to prevent the spread of flu.

At Fort Worth’s John Peter Smith Hospital, officials announced that positive flu tests in January climbed to 510 on Wednesday, exceeding December’s total and suggesting continued need for vigilance and preventive measures.

Dr. Jeffrey Tessier, an infectious disease specialist at JPS, said in a news release that the number of cases is probably twice as high as the number of positive tests, turning January’s 510 into more than 1,000 cases.

In Tolar, the canceled classes were announced in a letter to parents that was posted on campus Facebook pages.

The decision was made to help keep healthy students from getting sick, give sick students a chance to recover without getting behind on school work and allow custodians to deep-clean buildings.

“With the new time requirements for attendance, we have time built into the calendar for situations like this,” Stilwell, the superintendent, said, explaining that the days won’t have to be made up unless more days are missed in future months.

This report contains material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane A. Smith:

817-390-7675, @dianeasmith1

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