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Illness to blame for school closing

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By Jennifer Caldwell

A rash of illnesses provided Campbell County students with the first unscheduled vacation of the very young school year.

According to Dr. Michael Martin, director of schools, high incidents of not only student but also staff, sickness contributed to his decision to add an extra day to the Labor Day holiday.

On Friday afternoon Martin reported a 17 percent absentee rate among teaching staff at Campbell County High School as well as seven teacher absences at LaFollette Middle School.

While the H1N1 virus has gotten top billing in media coverage, Martin said it is not the sole cause of illness in the schools.

“Everyone is concerned about swine flu, we are getting reports of everything from the regular flu to respiratory infections to chicken pox,” Martin said of the variety of illnesses seen in the county.

Although H1N1 is not responsible for the majority of absences, Martin said there had been four confirmed cases of the virus at Jacksboro Middle School as well as two cases at Caryville Elementary School.

Martin hoped that the extra day off would provide the needed time to ward off health related problems that would require a more extended closure, but he is taking a wait and see approach.

“We won’t really know what is going to happen until we get the students back to school on Wednesday and check the numbers,” Martin explained.