Staph Scare Shuts Down Westside Schools

October 19, 2006-- Posted at 9:00 pm

JONESBORO-- A Region Eight school closes its doors to deal with a staph outbreak.

The entire Westside School District will be closed tomorrow so the school can be sanitized.

What seemed like a normal day for Westside students turned into chaos as they were informed that 10 students... 6 in elementary and 4 in middle school, were infected with staph.

As parents arrived to pick up their children from school, the news spread quickly.

"I was in shock! you are always concerned about your children, and I have twins that go here and they're both in the 7th grade. I was concerned about their health and their welfare," parent Pam Owens says.

One of the infected students has been hospitalized and the school has closed it's doors temporarily as a precaution.

"Starting tonight... We're going to start disinfecting every inch of every facility we have. So that by Monday morning we've at least by Monday morning we've got the peace of mind knowing we've done everything we can do," Superintendent Dr. James Best says.

Although classes will resume on Monday, Dr. Best says they will educate children on staph and the importance of washing their hands. They will also provide each classroom with alcohol-based hand gels and encourage them to use it throughout the day.

Meanwhile every inch of the school will be disinfected... Not even the lockerooms will be left untouched.

"I feel like the more knowledge we have about staph... How it works, how it's spread... We'll be able to better protect our kids," Dr. Best says.

Best says Westside is taking action consistent with other districts in Arkansas that have faced the same problem.

And parents like Pam Owens have confidence their children will be safe as they return to school.

"Westside is a very conscientious school and any problems that they have, they always handle it to the best of their ability," Owens says.

"We're working in conjunction with the county health department. They're going to help us educate the kids starting next week. The safety and welfare of every child here is first and foremost and we're going to do everything we can to control this," Dr. Best says.

All school events planned for the weekend have been canceled.

And Westside's football game against Osceola has been postponed until Monday.