Jonesboro Education Community Reacts to Westside Staph Outbreak

October 20, 2006 - Posted at 2:49 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR - It was a scary situation at the Westside School District yesterday when an outbreak of staph infection shut down the school.  And, other Jonesboro area schools have taken notice of the situation.

Following the Westside scare, officials in the Nettleton and Valley View districts are taking caution, yet remain confident that they have taken all possible steps to prevent similar situations from happening at their campuses.  "Since this incident has happened at Westside, we have revisited some of our procedures.  We are on high alert, but we aren't doing anything differently than we did a year ago," said Nettleton Associate Superintendent Bob Casteel.

Staph is all around us, including our bodies.  But the schools that K8 News talked to said the best defense against a staph outbreak is a good offense.  "We started last year, spending more money on chemicals for things like staph infection," said Casteel.

Just like Nettleton Schools, Valley View isn't doing anything different than what they normally do.  At Valley View, frequently touched areas are cleaned regularly with alcohol or bleach.  And teachers take an active role in keeping their students safe from staph.  "On a day to day basis, when they take their students to the restroom, each of the teachers stand outside with a bottle of hand sanitizer, and each child that comes out gets a squirt of hand sanitizer," said school nurse Glenda Rook.

With the number of common areas that student hands touch, teachers stock multiple bottles of hand sanitizer because it allows students easy clean-up, no matter the situation.  "You just squirt in on your hands, and you rub it," said Valley View second-grader Gannon Winstead.

Typically, students are thought to often have grubby little hands, however at Valley View, students wash their hands about five times per day.  While hand sanitizer is nice, the old-fashioned way goes a long way toward preventing the spread of germs and disease.  "They sanitize them and make us wash with soap and water to keep them clean, so that we won't get sick," said second-grader Brent Hackney.

Meanwhile, employees at Westside spent the day sanitizing and scrubbing down all three campuses in the district today.