North Texas District Closes Due to Flu Outbreak

Classes are canceled in Sunnyvale ISD Tuesday and Wednesday as the district tries to stop the spread of the flu, which they say kept more than one in 10 elementary school students home Monday.

Over the next two days, the district says janitors will work to disinfect all three of its campuses, even though the majority of the illnesses have been at Sunnyvale Elementary School. 

The district, which sits east of Dallas near Mesquite, and is home to about 1,800 students, says this is the first flu related closure in the district in the last decade. 

“We felt like just given the proximity of our three campuses and the fact that the kids share the same school buses and we have shared personnel and things like that, that it was just going to be in our best interest to shut down for a couple of days," said Superintendent Doug Williams. 

District officials started keeping an eye on illnesses last week when attendance was much lower than usual. They were hoping the weekend would be enough time out of school to stop the spread of the flu, but the number of absences climbed even more on Monday, reaching 85 by 10:30 a.m. at Sunnyvale Elementary. 

“We need to make sure the schools are disinfected, and then hopefully everyone can come back or as many as possible can come back and we can resume business as usual," said Williams. 

Williams said he would've liked to extend the closure by another day to give sick students even more time to recover. But with finals next week, he felt students couldn't miss another day in the classroom. 

While the closure's a first for most families in the district, it's been well received. 

"I’m glad they’re doing it. I think it’s the right thing to do,” said Cassie Patterson. 

Patterson has daughters at both Sunnyvale High School and Sunnyvale Middle school. She says the whole family's had flu shots and feel's they've done all they can to avoid illness. That comes with a few reminders.

“Wash your hands. Don’t share your food. Don’t share your drinks," said Patterson. 

Sunnyvale ISD says their calendar does include a couple of flex days. So assuming there aren't any snow or ice days this year, students and teachers won't have to make up the missed days.

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