13 local school districts now closed due to flu

Published: Jan. 16, 2018 at 10:26 PM CST
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School districts on both sides of the Red River have been forced to shut down for what doctors are calling one of the worst flu seasons in recent years.

"Flu is serious and it's widespread every year, but we've never had it hit like it has our campuses this year," Gunter ISD Superintendent Jill Siler said.

The flu is causing hundreds of Texoma students to stay home from school.

"I've never seen anything like this," Gunter parent Morgan Waggoner said.

Gunter Independent School District is the latest local school district to close due to the flu. Superintendent Siler said the district will remain closed until next Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Siler said 253 students were absent Wednesday. They are the first Grayson County school district to close due to the flu this year.

Lane Public Schools in Atoka County, Okla. is closed Thursday and Friday. They were closed Tuesday, reopened Wednesday and made the call to shut down again for the remainder of the week after a third of students were out sick Wednesday, Superintendent Roland Smith said.

Atoka Public Schools will shut down Thursday and Friday because of the flu, Assistant Superintendent Ernest Michaelis announced in an email.

Michaelis said the schools would be cleaned and disinfected before reopening on Monday.

Swink Public Schools in Choctaw County, Okla. canceled school Thursday, and they don't attend school on Fridays. Schools will reopen Monday.

Antlers and Stringtown schools are closed until Monday. Valliant and Wapanucka schools are closed Thursday and Tushka Public Schools are closed Friday.

In Fannin County, Tex., Bonham ISD superintendent Dr. Marvin Beaty says his district is shutting its doors until next Wednesday so district crews can sanitize every surface of school building, buses and supplies to eradicate the virus that kept 244 students, or just over 15 percent of the student body, out of school Tuesday. Dr. Beaty says sports and extracurricular practices will be determined on a case by case basis. Honey Grove ISD and Fannidel ISD are both closed through Monday, Jan. 22.

The halls at Hugo Public Schools are empty right now, and they'll remain that way for the rest of the week. Superintendent Dr Earl Dalke says 168 Hugo students, about 15 percent of their student population, also called in sick, but he still didn't take the decision to close lightly.

"First make sure that it's absolutely necessary because we do understand that it's a burden on families to be able to keep their kids at home," said Dalke.

Dr. Cynthia Simmons-Bindel of Neighbors Emergency Center says this year's flu strain is known to put people out for awhile.

"This strain is H3N2 and it's been around, it's not a new strain," said Dr. Simmons-Bindel. "But this strain is known to cause more symptoms and to make people sicker and sicker a little bit longer than some of the other strains of flu that we see."

The CDC says the flu season started early this year and influenza A H3N2 have been the most common forms. It is covered in the flu vaccine, however, the flu vaccine is expected to be about 10 percent effective this season.

But it's important to remember: if you're well, stay vigilant and if you're not, stay home.

"If you feel like you're coming down with the flu, it's important to stay home, first of all, so that you don't spread it if you do have the virus," said Dr. Simmons-Bindel.

SCHOOL CLOSING INFORMATION: Gunter ISD will close until Wednesday, January 24th Due to widespread flu and illness,...

Posted by Gunter Independent School District on Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Closed until Monday, Jan. 22

Antlers, Stringtown, Atoka, Lane, Hugo Tushka, Kingston and Swink Public Schools


Closed until Tuesday, Jan. 23

Sam Rayburn ISD

Honey Grove ISD

Fannindel ISD


Closed until Wednesday, Jan. 24

Bonham and Gunter schools