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Flu Closes School in Northrop

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The flu continues to hit southern Minnesota hard, especially one small school in Northrop.

St. James Evangelical Lutheran School was closed today not because of the snow, but because of the flu.

The school is located in the small community of Northrop.  It consists of 41 kindergarten through 8th grade students and 16 children in preschool.

The flu started to spread this past Thursday when one child was out sick.  Then Friday, the next day, 21 students were absent with the illness including some who went home feeling sick at the end of the day.

Over the weekend, a phone chain was enacted.  "The school board members were concerned about the ability to actually function as an educational institution and so we enacted a phone chain so we went and notified lead parents that would call other parents and took a head count that were sick over the weekend" says Sarah Garcia, Principal at St. James Evangelical Lutheran School.

The phone chain revealed that about 50% of students were sick, prompting the shutdown on Monday.  School remained closed today as another phone chain indicated that while some were better, more than 20% of the school would remain absent.

Tomorrow school will resume, unless the number of absent students is above 20%. 

With the school empty, teachers have been able to grade in peace.  The school has also been cleaned while the students have been out, including floors that have been coated with disinfectant and then sealed over with a fax finish.

"We disinfected all surfaces and then the custodian also Lysoled everything after it had been disinfected and he has mopped the floors and wiped down the windowsills and has done a tremendous amount of cleaning just to be on the safe side" says Garcia.

Parents are urged to keep their children home until 24 hours have passed without flu–like symptoms.