Flu spike forces Holland elementary school to close

Ottawa County

HOLLAND. Mich. (WOOD) — A Holland elementary school was forced to close its doors Thursday and Friday after a spike in flu cases.

School administrators at West Elementary say on Wednesday about 90 of their 450 students called in with flu-like symptoms. Several teachers also called out with the same symptoms. To prevent the virus from spreading further, West Elementary closed its doors for the remainder of the week. 

“It was alarming,” said Jason Craner, spokesperson for Holland Public Schools. “It certainly is rare for a school building to close a single building, but it also is something that is necessary sometimes when you see a spike in illnesses at one building.”

holland west elementary closed flyer
A flyer explains that West Elementary in Holland is closed due to illness. (Jan. 23, 2020)

The school is now working with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health to thoroughly sanitize the building while students are away.

“We’re going to be wiping down surfaces and doorknobs, bathrooms are going to be getting deep cleaning, so that when students come back on Monday, it’s going to be a healthy environment and students will be able to learn,” said Craner. 

The issue is spanning past the school building with several counties reporting an uptick in flu cases since the start of the new year. In the rest of Ottawa County, the health department reports 367 confirmed cases. In Kalamazoo County, health officials report 225 cases.

Kent County, the most populous, reports 1,113 cases through the first three weeks of the year. Several medical facilities have already started posting flu restrictions asking visitors who are sick to avoid coming to the facility.

Holland Public School officials say they will be working to make sure parents and students are educated about ways to prevent the spread of the virus. 

The tips they’re giving out include washing your hands, avoiding contact with sick people. They also say if you’re coughing or sneezing, be sure to do so in your arm and not into your hand. 

Health officials are also reminding people to get a flu shot.

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