West Grand cancels school Monday, Tuesday with dozens of students out sick on Thursday
West Grand schools will be closed the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break after the district noticed a sharp uptick in the number of students and staff who’ve gotten sick.
A letter from Superintendent Darrin Peppard details how the district has seen a rise in health related issues at the schools, specifically gastrointestinal and upper respiratory illnesses. These issues are resulting in high absenteeism among both the students and adults in the schools, according to the superintendent.
“While we like to push through cold and flu season, this current bout is highly contagious and spreads quickly,” Peppard wrote in a letter explaining the decision. “Having as many students and adults out sick has an adverse effect on the learning environment.”
As a result, all activities, including games and practices for West Grand’s athletic teams and clubs, have also been canceled.
“We won’t have any activities of any kind (Friday), Monday or Tuesday,” Peppard said over the phone.
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This is the first time Peppard knows of that West Grand has had to close all its schools to try to prevent the spread of an illness. However, more than 60 students were out sick on Thursday, and Peppard is hoping the extended break will help students and adults get a handle on the virus.
The district’s maintenance and custodial staff will use next Monday and Tuesday as an opportunity to sanitize and deep clean the schools.
“By taking this unusual step, it is our hope and belief that staffulty and students will return from Thanksgiving healthy and recharged for the end of the semester,” Peppard wrote in the letter.
West Grand’s decision to close the schools is unprecedented for the district, but it falls in line with Mesa County Valley School District 51, the 14th-largest school district in Colorado, closing every single one of its schools for the same reasons.
On Thursday, Grand County Public Health reported some instances of gastrointestinal illnesses in the county, but added that no outbreak has been declared locally.
“Our neighbors in Mesa County are experiencing a rapidly spreading Norovirus-like illness,” the health department warned. “If you or a family member are experiencing symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, please stay home until symptoms have ceased for 24 hours.”
Flu vaccines are available at the pharmacies at Safeway and City Market, as well as Middle Park Health, and can be given until June.
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