CUSTER COUNTY, Okla. (KFOR) – Hundreds of students in two western Oklahoma school districts are out sick with the flu, prompting one school district to move to distance learning for a few days.
The halls of Thomas Fay Custer schools are bare and smell of fresh sanitizer. The superintendent Rob Friesen said that’s because on Monday morning, 161 students called in sick which Friesen said was about 35% of their district population.
“That’s a number that I don’t know that I’ve ever gotten close to before,” said Superintendent Friesen. “It really looked like a a ghost town around here. You take that many kids out and it makes a difference.”
Staff also called to tell the office they wouldn’t be at work.
“We had 12 total and some of those were sick themselves. Some of those were at home taking care of a sick child,” said Friesen.
Twenty miles south, in Weatherford, in-person learning is still on. However, the superintendent, who wasn’t available to go on camera, said around 200 kids are also recovering at home.
Officials in both districts said the main problem was the flu, while very few are battling COVID-19. Others are battling a virus, like Jadelyn Bone’s kids, who attend TFC Schools.
Her daughter is sick and Bone believes something was passed on to her 1-year-old.
“She had a viral infection, which I think turned into flu. And then my seven year old has a dry cough and a low fever. So we just kind of been staying in and not going anywhere,” said Bone. “I take care of my mother in law. So taking care of her with dementia and everything plus two sick kids is kind of a struggle for me.”
Friesen said because end of the semester tests are coming up, the district is switching to distant learning.
Superintendent Friesen said the plan is to resume in-person learning on Thursday.
“The two days will be enough for us and we’ll see how it goes,” said Friesen.
Thomas Fay Custer’s music and Christmas programs have been canceled tonight and are being rescheduled for next week.