Palestine-Wheatley Schools closed, cleaned Friday due to flu symptoms

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PALESTINE, Ark.— Palestine-Wheatley Schools were closed school on Friday, and everyone who works with the district was required to help disinfect the school.

Superintendent Jon Estes said after a week of increased absenteeism due to the flu, something had to change.

“It was time to say we need to do something else because it’s not getting any better,” Estes said.

In a tweet, the school district said they will close Friday to allow students to get over the flu. All teachers, staff and everyone else who draws a paycheck from the district were required to be at work to help clean and disinfect the school.

Palestine-Wheatley is only one of many school districts across the Mid-South to make the decision to close their doors this week. Marked Tree Schools announced they will remain closed until Tuesday to disinfect their facilities.

Senior medical consultant with the Arkansas Department of Health Gary Wheeler said it’s common for schools to shut down during the peak of flu season. He says this season, there have been more than 13,000 flu cases, with more than 2,000 cases reported last week.

The Arkansas Department of Health suggests making sure your family is vaccinated this flu season.

“Closing the schools does in fact in some cases allow a break in the spread of infection,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said the department is not expecting the numbers to go down for another two to three weeks but it depends on the community.

“Sometimes it’s better to stay at home and get better than it is to come up here and get sick,” Estes said.

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