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Flu closes local, area schools

The ongoing flu outbreak has forced several local school systems to close today in an attempt to stop the spread among students, faculty and staff. 

Lawton Public Schools announced the decision Thursday afternoon, citing the "high number of staff and student absences reported today with the increase in illness across the district." Lynn Cordes, communications director, said the closure also affects all events and activities that had been planned for this evening and Saturday, upon advice of the Oklahoma Department of Health.

School sterilization procedures are in effect.

"For the night custodial staff, it's part of their procedures to disinfect everything," Cordes said. "That's part of the daily duties they've already been doing. There are already processes for sterilization taking place and will continue. We hope this time will provide an opportunity for staff and students to recover."

The district made the decision after communicating with Bishop Public School, Flower Mound Public School, Cache Public Schools and Great Plains Technology Center, all of which also are closed today. Cordes said the district will not have to make up the missed day because additional days are already factored into the school calendar each year. 

Glenn Boyer, spokesman for GPTC, said most of the Lawton campus will be closed today and most activities scheduled for today and Saturday have been canceled. The exceptions will be the Economic Development Center and Business Development Center, both of which will be open and operational today. The testing center will also be open as scheduled Saturday because many have already reserved testing times. 

Boyer said the decision was influenced, in part, by decisions by Lawton, Cache and Elgin public schools, whose students make up 85 percent of Great Plains Technology Center's high school population.

A spokesman for Geronimo Public Schools said all schools in that district also will be closed on Friday.

Boyer said Great Plains' custodial staff will be working today to sanitize all public surfaces, such as door knobs and restrooms, to lessen the likelihood of flu contamination.

Cache Public Schools assistant superintendent Corey Holland said his district's closure will hopefully give everyone a chance to recover. 

"We'll have our support staff come in and deep cleanse our buildings," he said. "With no students around, we can get all spots cleaned for sure. We hope to resume class on Monday."

Holland said 11 percent of students were absent on Thursday.

"We had lots of teachers out. And we've had lots of substitutes unavailable because so many of them are sick, too," Holland said. "We hope it gets better by next week."

The Lawton Constitution

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