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Crocker disinfects and deep-cleans school buildings after flu outbreak
CROCKER, Mo. (Oct. 16, 2009) — Following a flu outbreak that cancelled three days of school, Crocker R-II School District officials have thoroughly disinfected the school and plan to reopen the building for classes on Monday.

The extensive cleaning program has given the school buildings a strong smell of disinfectants, according to school bookkeeper Stephanie Knudsen, who was herself away from work for several days with a sick grandchild.

“Students and staff and everyone was asked to stay out of the buildings,” Knudsen said. “We could definitely tell it had been disinfected when we came in. It is clean, not that it wasn’t before, but the custodians have been going room to room with Lysol, Clorox, all the good stuff.”

Cancelling classes for three days may have been unavoidable with 170 students and seven teachers reporting flu or flu-like symptoms, but will force the district to make up three days of classes. Knudsen said district officials have announced that they will hold classes on Veterans Day and on the morning of Oct. 30, which had been planned for a parent-teacher conference day. Those conferences will continue to be held, but not during the morning hours.

It’s not yet clear when the third make-up day will be scheduled.

The cancellation of classes directly affected state sectional softball competition between Crocker and Montrose, which had been scheduled for Wednesday night, was rescheduled for Thursday, and finally set on Friday at a different location in Bolivar rather than St. Elizabeth. The location change wasn’t due to flu but rather due to wet fields in St. Elizabeth.

However, the flu outbreak prevented the Crocker team members from practicing.

“They could not stop the state competition but the team could not practice; they could not go to the field at all,” Knudsen said.

Neither health department officials nor school officials know whether the flu outbreak is seasonal flu or H1N1 flu, formerly known as swine flu, which has struck numerous people at Fort Leonard Wood and killed a Laclede County child, but Knudsen said she has no information from parents or other sources indicating the flu hitting Crocker students was the pandemic H1N1 strain.

Knudsen, a Crocker native who has spent 21 years in the district, said she can’t recall any flu outbreak like what hit Crocker this year.

“I’m sure we have cancelled classes before for sickness, but I can’t remember when,” Knudsen said.

Knudsen said district officials are confident they’ll be able to hold classes on Monday, but if that doesn’t happen, they’ll use the district’s “School REACH” phone messaging system to alert all parents to the change. That same system was used Tuesday to inform students that school would be cancelled for the rest of the week, and was used later in the week to alert parents to the change in softball sectional playing locations from St. Elizabeth to Bolivar.

Knudsen, who has been working in the school building all Friday, said parents should be confident sending their students to classes on Monday.

“Rest assured that every effort was made to clean and disinfect the building,” Knudsen said. “I feel every effort has been made, and if they’re going to get a virus, they aren’t going to get the virus because of the building.”

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