With attendance percentages being between 96-97% any given day, Kennett Middle School knew something needed to be done when numbers drastically decreased. Principal Ward H. Billings told Region 8 News that on Wednesday, September 23, the attendance was at 95%. The following Wednesday, September 30, 87% attendance was recorded. On that day alone, 60 students called in sick and another 60 who were displaying flu-like symptoms were sent home by either teachers or nurses. Last Friday, October 2, was the deciding factor. Records showed that 140 out of the 480 middle school students were absent. That is an attendance rate of 69%. Billings says this was when administrators decided to cancel school on Monday and Tuesday.
Extracurricular activities were also canceled. The only exception was the High School girls' tennis and softball teams who are preparing for district tournaments this week. There is a nurse attending each practice who will monitor any health issues that should arise.
Billings explains that Kennett school districts were made aware of a possible flu outbreak by their Director of Health Services Deb Cook. Cook provides in-service to the Kennett School District staff on health-related issues. Kennett was informed by Cook that based on information from the Center for Disease Control, an outbreak could occur in the fall and winter months.
Since being made aware, Billings says extra measures have been taken to ensure health and safety. Custodians sanitize hard and frequently used surfaces daily. Hand sanitizer is located in classrooms, hallways, and the cafeteria. Nurses are monitoring students closely to keep the possible spread to a minimum.
As the students take Monday and Tuesday off, Billings explains custodians and the maintenance crews are using this time to do a more thorough cleaning of the school. He adds that the closing of the school and the actions currently being taken should not worry parents or other schools.
"Even though it's not something that is necessitated by the C.D.C.," he explains, "We did feel that given the fact that we are going to be out of school these two days that it certainly would not hurt to take these additional precautionary measures."
School for both the Malden and Kennett school districts will resume on Wednesday.