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Schools close due to illness

Jessamine County Schools were forced to close because of illness last week after attendance levels dropped to 80 percent district-wide, and another 200 students were signed out last Wednesday because of flu-related symptoms.

“The safety of our students and staff was the first priority in the decision to close,” Director of Public Relations for JCS Patrice Jones said. “The factors that weighed into the decision were the number of ill students, as well as the number of ill staff members and the resulting impact on supervision and instruction. (Because of) the sudden onset of symptoms that can be characteristic of the flu, individuals were also coming to school/work before realizing they were ill, potentially exposing others to illness.”

The impact of these illnesses was seen district-wide and not limited to any specific school or location.

Utilizing two non-traditional instruction days, students stayed home last Thursday and Friday.

“Safeguarding the health and welfare of our students and staff is at the forefront of everything that we do,” Supt. Matt Moore said. “The flu can be a serious condition, even for otherwise healthy individuals. After consulting with medical professionals, we felt it was in the best interest of the JCS family to cancel school, providing time and distance for students and staff to recover, and also using those days to deep clean and sanitize our facilities.”

The decision to close schools came with praise and criticism.

“I realize this closure caused a disruption for some, and I appreciate the tremendous amount of support that we have received regarding this decision.”

Jones said, “In our district, these days have typically been used for inclement weather, but state regulations allow for NTI time to be implemented on days when the district is closed for health or safety reasons.”

Jessamine County Schools have 10 NTI days, which leaves the district with eight days for the remainder of the school year before the school calendar would need to be adjusted for missed instruction time.

“This is the first time JCS has utilized NTI days for Illness,” Jones said.

Students received packets in December including NTI lesson plans and how to communicate with teachers if they need assistance or have questions while working from home. Teachers are available by email and phone to assist students throughout the day as needed.

“Documentation of student work completed on NTI days is submitted to the Kentucky Department of Education in order to receive final approval for the 10-day calendar waiver from the Kentucky Commissioner of Education,” Jones said.