By RICK NORTON
Classrooms in the Cleveland and Bradley County school systems are shut down today due to rising absenteeism rates among the student and staff populations.Additionally, city schools will be closed …
Classrooms in the Cleveland and Bradley County school systems are shut down today due to rising absenteeism rates among the student and staff populations.
Additionally, city schools will be closed Monday to allow cleaning crews time to disinfect building interiors throughout the system, in an attempt to mop up and wipe out a flu bug whose bite has worsened over the past couple weeks.
School-closing announcements began Thursday as early as 1:30 p.m. when the city system confirmed its intent to close its doors, and the county system followed suit later in the afternoon. Both announcements were distributed community-wide by the Cleveland/Bradley Emergency Management Agency.
In a statement from the city school system, officials stressed, "All after-school activities and athletic events will be determined by the school principal."
The city schools statement added, "Twelve-month employees will work regular hours on Friday, Feb. 2. Twelve-month employees will not work on Monday, Feb. 5."
The city schools media statement stressed, "This closure will allow our cleaning service to properly sanitize the schools and offices."
In the county school system, the emergency protocol is following a similar routine with the exception of Monday's schedule. Dr. Linda Cash, county school system director, confirmed in her statement Thursday county classrooms will reopen Monday.
"Our custodians will be in the buildings on Friday to clean and disinfect throughout the buildings," Cash's statement explained. "Our absentee numbers are not extreme, but I am seeing an increase as the week progresses. This is a preventive measure to help with the illnesses."
Cash added, "We (county) will be in school on Monday since our [absenteeism is] not critical across the district. There are some surrounding districts that are experiencing more illness-related absences than we are at this time."
The county schools director said her hope is the brief break and cleaning "... will assist our students and teachers in staying healthy."
In the county system, all elementary practices and games are canceled until Monday, the Cash statement advised. All secondary activities will continue through the weekend.
Open houses at Bradley Central High and Walker Valley High schools were reportedly held as scheduled Thursday night.
According to regional media reports, Cleveland City Schools Director Dr. Russell Dyer said 1,626 students — 29.4 percent of the system's student body — failed to report to school at some point throughout the week.
Similar closings are also being reported by neighboring school systems, according to regional news media reports.
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