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Hardeman County School District cancels classes after absences spike

BOLIVAR, Tenn. -- The entire school district is closed down in Hardeman County after the number of sick students and staff members rose rapidly.

Christopher Cross said his niece is one of more than 3,700 students in the Hardeman County School District who has Thursday and Friday off.

“She likes going to school, so she’s probably not too thrilled about having it off," said Cross.

District leaders said they cancelled classes after the number of absences spiked in the past week -- something they’ve been watching closely for months.

“Our concern, first and foremost, is about the students and about their health," said deputy director Bobby Doyle.

He said some of the schools were seeing more than four times the regular number of absences and the district was approaching a 10 percent absentee rate.

This, in addition to people checking out on a daily basis due to being sick.

“If it’s the flu, once it starts spreading, it can spread to everybody at school," said Cross.

The district said it's mostly seeing cases of the flu, stomach virus and strep throat.

They’re using the two days off to send their custodial crews in to sanitize the schools and give students a chance to recover.

“I think that’s a pretty good thing with the way people have been sick," said Cross.

“We just want the students to be well and healthy, and come back and be ready to go back in the classroom and learn," said Doyle.

Doyle said they had a similar situation happen two years ago where the high number of absences led them to close down for a few days. They said it was successful then and hopes it will be this time around as well.

The students will be back in school on Monday and then be off the week after for Spring Break.

The health department also said they’re working with the school district to track these different illness cases.