Flu outbreak calls for school cancellation at local district

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BOONVILLE - The flu hit home for the Boonville School District. School is canceled Friday because of the alarming rate of phone calls about illness.

Boonville Superintendent Mark Ficken said the decision took a lot of thought. 

"The administrative team came together today. We reviewed some illness data, you know absentees between the number of substitute staff and students, who throughout the day the numbers grew, as more students were going home with fever and symptoms," Ficken said.

With attendance decreasing, the team felt it was the right thing to do.

"Whenever the attendance gets to a certain point really it's not good business sense to open up and open your doors for other kids to come in and possibly catch what's being passed around. So we had an off day on Monday, and the administrative team felt like with the impending weather coupled with the number of staff..." Ficken said.

There isn't data that show how many students were actually affected with influenza A.

"Those are just parents calling and saying that their student had influenza, so I have no way of verifying that."

Ficken said the school is taking extra measures to prevent the flu from spreading more than it has already. 

"The students are already home today, and our maintenance and custodial staff is going through the buildings and wiping down all the water fountains and the bathrooms and sinks. And we do those everyday anyway, but we're just taking extra precaution and cleaning desks and doorknobs, and light fixtures and pencil sharpeners and everything that can be touched by a student we're trying to disinfectant and wipe down today," Ficken said. 

He said students weren't the only ones staying home sick.

"We even had substitutes calling in sick that were supposed to substitute, so it was a very difficult day today and just felt like it was time to give the kids and staff a day to get well," Ficken said.

Even the superintendent was down with the blues.

"I was just getting over the flu, I was out last Friday and Monday of this week," He said. 

Missouri resident Rick Perkins said avoiding the flu is simple. 

"I just drink a lot of liquids you know I eat a lot of vegetables you know, somehow I've been lucky I guess," Perkins said.

He said avoiding contact with sick people is also a good way to avoid the illness. 

"Yea, I know quite a few people that had it that I try to stay away from them as much as possible," Perkins said.