Sickness forces Marion and Grundy County Schools to close for the rest of this week

Grundy and Marion Counties say dozens of students are calling out sick, so they want to prevent illnesses from spreading. (Image: WTVC)

It's the season for sickness, and two school districts in our area will be closed for the rest of the week as a result.

Grundy and Marion Counties say dozens of students are calling out sick, so they want to prevent illnesses from spreading.

But it’s not just the flu that’s keeping kids out of class. One nurse practitioner in Chattanooga said bacterial infections like strep throat are also causing problems.

Kayla Johnson, a nurse practitioner at CHI Memorial says this year’s flu season is calm compared to the last.

"We've seen quite a few positive strep tests. Mostly kids, but adults can get it too," said Johnson.

The latest numbers from the State Health Department show Hamilton County is mostly influenza-free. However, several surrounding rural areas are getting hit hard by a variety of illnesses. Marion County Director of Schools Dr. Mark Griffith says his students are no exception.

"It’s flu, it's stomach virus, it's sicknesses like flu. We've had some test positive, some test not, but they're still sick in some way, form or fashion," said Griffith.

Griffith said about 17 percent of his students, and several teachers, called out sick Wednesday. Over the next four days, cleaning crews will go into every school building in hopes disinfecting will cut down on illness.

"We certainly don't have a crystal ball, but we're hoping that it's up and running 100 percent on Monday," said Griffith.

Health officials say disinfecting is key to fighting any virus. They say right now, deep cleaning needs to not only happen at school, but also at home.

"Change those toothbrushes if they’re on antibiotics, that way they don’t get the same germs in their mouth. Just keep them quarantined away from brothers and sisters if they're not sick and away from friends to," said Johnson.

All after-school activities in Marion County, including home sporting events, are cancelled through Monday, January 28.

Dr. Griffith said another reason to call off school was because several substitute teachers were also sick and could not fill in.

Check here for a full list of current school closings and delays in our area.

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