Illnesses force early start to holiday break in Tyler County


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MIDDLEBOURNE, W.Va. (AP) — A flu outbreak in Tyler County has contributed to an early start to the Christmas holiday break for students.

Officials closed all schools in the county on Friday. West Virginia Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro says the county also called off classes planned for Monday and a half day on Tuesday.

Tyler County Health Department assistant administrator Karen Cain said the decision was made after a conference call Thursday among officials from the health and education officials from the county and state.

Tyler County schools Superintendent Robin Daquilante said 350 students, or 28 percent, of the county's 1,245 students had missed school in the past week due to the flu, strep throat or other ailments.

She told the Parkersburg News & Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1Aqd5VP) that not enough substitute teachers were available Thursday to cover for an undetermined number of teachers who had called in sick, forcing several classes to be combined. Some teachers also came to work sick.

County school sports practices, games and other extracurricular activities were suspended until Dec. 29, forcing a basketball tournament and a wrestling tournament to be called off.

The decision involves "anything where we are putting kids together," Daquilante said. "I'm not the most popular woman in Tyler County with that decision."

Classes will resume on Jan. 5.

No other school systems have been disrupted by flu outbreaks elsewhere in the state, Cordeiro said.

"Not at this time," she said.

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported flu cases were widespread in 29 states in the previous week. Experts worry this will be a bad season because the dominant strain is not covered in this year's vaccine. But officials have not seen an unusually high number of hospitalizations or deaths so far.

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Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), http://www.newsandsentinel.com

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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