MEMPHIS, Tenn. — McNairy County Schools in West Tennessee were closed because of a rising number of flu cases affecting children and support staff.

For students and staff in the McNairy County School District, classes were canceled Friday. Greg Martin, the district’s director of schools, tells WREG a recent rise in flu cases is to blame.

“Our numbers had subsided last week, got down to kind of a manageable number, but began to trickle back up on Wednesday and Thursday,” said Martin.

The flu was also taking a toll on the district’s support staff.

“We were really having to double up with the bus route,” Martin said. “That was really pushing our support staff to the limit, so we felt by taking today and disinfecting our buildings would get us back to a much more normal routine on Monday.”

At Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, the number of pediatric flu cases has increased.

“It doesn’t really surprise me,” said Dr. Sandra Arnold. “We’ve been talking a lot about the flu for the past couple of weeks. We are certainly seeing a number of children coming into Le Bonheur and being tested for the flu and testing positive in our emergency room.”

Arnold, the chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Le Bonheur, says parents shouldn’t anticipate a severe flu season because it’s already here.

“It’s not surprising to us, given that we haven’t had any flu since the start of the pandemic, that we have a lot of susceptible people out there. So again, as I said, it’s really important to get your flu shot,” Arnold said.

It’s why health experts say McNairy County made the right decision in doing its part to slow the spread of the flu.

“I think that the closing of the schools and removing the people who have flu from the schools is going to be the most important thing,” Arnold said.

The McNairy County School District is hoping to reopen its schools possibly as early as Monday.