Staph Outbreak Shuts Down Westside School District

OCTOBER 19, 2006 - Posted at 2:33 p.m. CDT, updated at 4:41 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - The Westside School District will close at 3:25 p.m. today and will not re-open until classes resume Monday morning at 8:05, due to an apparent outbreak of staph infection.

All activities scheduled for tonight, Friday and the weekend have been canceled, as district officials will use that time to disenfect and clean all facilities as a preventative measure "to control staph infection that has appeared in a few students," according to a release from superintendent Dr. James Best, who says more information will be announced next week regarding the re-scheduling of school activities.

The Westside-Osceola prep football game scheduled for tomorrow night has been postponed until Monday evening.

"The Westside School District is taking responsible action to safeguard the health of its students and employees.  The district's actions are preventative in nature to protect all students and employees.  Staph has been an issue in surrounding states.  Westside is taking action consistent with other districts surrounding Arkansas," according to the release.

The district has consulted with Dr. Adam Cohen of the National Center for Disease Control and is following recommendations from the CDC.  Per the CDC's recommendation, alcohol-based hand gels will be present throughout all of the district.  Best says Westside is taking "extra precautionary measures to clean all facilities, but it is very important to note that parents can be the most important factor in the control of staph by emphasizing good hand-washing practices both at home and at school."