ALBERTVILLE, Ala. -- A number of students were absent from school Thursday because they were either already sick or trying to avoid getting ill. The flu epidemic is plaguing schools across north Alabama. Many shut their doors temporarily this week to try to knock out what is left of the flu.
Albertville City Schools brought in a custodial team of 10 people to clean for five hours Thursday morning. "[Wednesday], our checkouts and absences reached about 10 percent of the high school, which is the largest that we've had since the holiday break," explained Albertville High School Principal Deidra Robinson.
With nearly 75 students at Albertville High out of school Wednesday due to the spread of the flu, district leaders decided to close schools Thursday and Friday to give everyone a chance to get well and to do some deep cleaning.
"Each and every day we have custodians come in before school and stay after school," said Robinson. "Then as rooms are emptied for planning periods and things, our custodians have been disinfecting and cleaning the rooms."
Albertville High School is making sure their janitorial staff cleans every hotspot in the school. "They're sanitizing all of our high traffic areas like the gym, lunchroom and our fine arts center," added Robinson.
School officials hope these efforts will help keep students healthy and in the classroom. Albertville City School students are expected to return to school Monday.
Albertville City Schools Superintendent, Dr. Boyd English, said he knew he had to close schools once the number of students in class started to drastically decline.
"Students went through our nursing station at our high school and those numbers were alarming," said English. "Safety is always paramount in our system because our students and faculty and administrators always come first."
In alignment with Governor Kay Ivey's State Public Health Emergency, Albertville schools closed Thursday and Friday. Students that are out sick before or even after this week will be granted an excused absence with a note.
"We will work with them to make up their work," said Robinson. "We do encourage anyone that feels sick or feels like if they have some flu-like symptoms to stay home."
Although schools are closed, Albertville High School still plans to hold the band competition and basketball tournament set for Friday night. Organizers are asking anyone who is participating or attending either event to please stay home if they're experiencing flu-like symptoms.