OCILLA, GA (WALB) - With the flu epidemic at an all-time high in Georgia, one Southwest Georgia elementary school closed for two days after seeing an increase in sickness caused by the virus.
On Thursday, Irwin County Elementary School's hallways and classrooms were empty and filled with cleaning crews, sanitizing the entire school from top to bottom.
"It was warranted to close the elementary school down this week to try to do some extra cleaning and give students and staff three or four days away from each other to see if we could slow down the spreading of the flu," said Irwin County Superintendent Dr. Thad Clayton.
Clayton said this week the school had an average of 60 students out a day, but it was the amount of staff who that was out that made things alarming.
"Normally this time of year we will have four to five staff members a day who are out for the flu, and Wednesday we hit a double-digit stay," said Clayton.
One great-grandparent in the community said her great grandchild was sick with the flu two weeks ago and gave everyone in the household the flu. She said she knew it was a matter of time before the school would close.
"I was wondering during that time, why they hadn't closed down even earlier, you know when the children was out sick. So, I suppose the kids went back and gave the teachers the flu," said Alicia Boyd, great-grandparent to an elementary school student.
As the flu got worse, the superintendent knew it was time to make the call for students and teachers to get out of school Thursday and Friday.
"We decided Tuesday to close the school, it had been a topic that we had discussed for several weeks depending on where our numbers were going," explained Clayton.
For parents and guardians like Alicia, they feel it was a good call made by the school system to keep the students out for cleaning.
"If it hadn't been disinfected or cleaned like it should be, sterilized, sanitized, you're going back into the same thing. It goes to the kids and the teachers and they bring it home to the parents," said Boyd.
Irwin County Elementary School will remain closed on Friday, however, Irwin County Middle and high schools will be in session for the remainder of the week.