Flagler County elementary school fights illness outbreak

By Brittany Jones, Flagler County Reporter
Last Updated: Wednesday, December 20, 2017, 6:50 PM EST

The flu is going around one Flagler County school, less than a week before Christmas.

  • Old Kings Elementary School dealing with outbreak
  • Dozens of students showing flu-like symptoms
  • District is spraying classrooms down with disinfectant

Custodial workers at Old Kings Elementary School are constantly spraying, hoping to keep the rest of principal Katie Crooke's students from getting sick.

"It definitely takes your breath away a little bit because you just want to fix it," said Crooke.

The school started to notice the outbreak of sickness on Dec. 11. A cluster of students came into the clinic with similar symptoms related to flu and gastrointestinal illnesses.

She said they've seen about 160 sick students in their clinic within the past two weeks. They're using Google spreadsheets to keep track of those students, so they'll know where to disinfect.

There's just under 1,300 students who attend the school, and one day more than 50 went home sick. During this period, up to 250 were absent.

Some parents kept their children home as a precaution, or if they saw symptoms in their children. But the district says they aren't sure how many of the kids were out due to sickness, since some also may have left early for the holiday.

"Every day we hit a peak, then from about mid-last week, we've seen a decrease. So we know that measures that we're doing are working," said Crooke. 

The district's director of custodial services said they have extra workers at the school, spraying every classroom every night, plus using equipment to also disinfect buses.

"What this does is it puts out a charge that helps the chemical bind to the surface and kill everything from GI viruses within two minutes, to the flu within 30 seconds," said Chris Shudy, director of services.

"They're all of our babies. You want nothing more than for them to feel healthy and safe," said Crooke.

Crooke's kids, who attend the school, weren't immune to it either.

"They got sick. They're little and they're kids and they touch things. It was a hurdle, they got over it," said Crooke.

"We’re taking a hard surface sanitizer and sanitizing all the toys, the gym equipment. We’re doing proactively the nurses station, all our common areas. It's hits 18,000 sq feet an hour," said Shudy.

"Hopefully we just see the end of it now," said Crooke.

The school also decided to shut down many after-school activities so they could begin spraying earlier once students are gone for the day.

Crooke reported on Wednesday they had higher attendance than they've had in about a week and a half.