Matthews school cancels class amid flu outbreak, over 160 students reported absent

MATTHEWS, NC (WBTV) - A school in Matthews has canceled classes for the rest of the week after over 160 students were out Tuesday with the flu, church officials said.

Carmel Christian School announced that classes were canceled for Thursday and Friday due to the flu outbreak. The school's website says that all classes and regularly scheduled events would be canceled for the two days.

"There was a lot of people Tuesday morning," Carmel Christian School Student Gaylen Allen said. "A lot of people came to school, then by the end of the day, so many people left because they had fevers and ended up going home."

According to Tim Wishon, who is a church administrator, school officials saw flu-like symptoms "ramping up last week." On Tuesday, a "very noticeable" amount of students were out with the flu.

Out of the 945 students who attend the school, 164 were out Tuesday due to the illness, which is over 16 percent of the student body. According to a letter that was sent to parents, four teachers and a school nurse were also absent due to the flu outbreak.

"It's a little crazy that that many kids have the flu." Carmel Christian School Parent Emily Espinosa said.

Espinosa has a third grader at Carmel. She says a couple of her child's classmates have gotten sick. She was told things could have been worse in her son's class.

"His teacher did tell us that we think that his class was one of the ones that was spared more," the mother said. "They had less students sick than some of the other classes."

Wishon believes that the "flu spread by students getting sick and coming back too early and being in close proximity to other students in the school." He released this statement to parents:

"I am so sorry for the inconvenience this may cause, but we believe this is the best course of action to allow sick students to recover and prevent further outbreak throughout our school community."

The school did consult with the Mecklenburg County Department of Health. Parents say closing the school was the right decision.

"We really appreciate them letting us know and closing the school and taking the right precautions, because we certainly don't want the flu in our house," Espinosa said.

A cleaning contractor has been called in to disinfect the classrooms and offices, Wishon said.

A mist will be used in nearly 100 classrooms to cover everything. After the mist is sprayed. It should take about 30 minutes to do the job.

"I think it's great," Espinosa said. "As a parent it's wonderful and hopefully it'll sanitize it and get it all cleaned up so the kids can come back."

Classes are dismissed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. All activities associated with the 2018 Carmel Christian School Martin Luther King, Jr. Showcase will remain as scheduled. The school plans to reopen on Tuesday, according to Wishon.

According to the school's family handbook, the decision to close school is made in conjunction with Carmel Baptist Church.

Students are expected to return to school on Jan. 16.

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