Clifton Independent School District is canceling classes for the rest of the week because of health concerns and an increase in student absences, the district announced Tuesday.

Clifton Elementary School, Clifton Middle School and Clifton High School will be closed from Wednesday through Friday, the announcement states. The district has not specified the nature of the health concerns, but the flu has been widespread this season locally and statewide.

Statewide, flu-related deaths more than doubled recently, jumping to 2,300 by Saturday from 1,100 two weeks earlier, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Officials with Clifton ISD, a Bosque County district with about 900 students, did not return calls Tuesday.

In McLennan County, reported cases of the flu and flu-like illnesses are down slightly from a peak in mid-January. Still, since the last week of 2017, confirmed weekly flu cases have been the highest of any of the past five seasons.

Two people in the county had died of the flu as of early January, and no more flu-related deaths have been reported, said Kelly Craine, spokeswoman for the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District.

McLennan County had 1,488 cases for the week ending Jan. 20, the most-recent city data available. The week ending Jan. 13 saw 1,835 cases, the most of this season, according to the health district.

“Plenty of people still have it, which means exposure is widespread and so there are still plenty of opportunities to get it,” Craine said.

The flu shot is still the best protection against the virus, officials have said. Anyone who thinks they are sick should see a doctor and stay home otherwise, Craine said.

“If you’re not sure, think about whether you have a fever,” she said. “A fever is a good sign it’s the flu or something very serious.”

Shortly before Christmas, West ISD officials closed their elementary school a day early for winter break because of flu and other seasonal illnesses. The absentee rate was close to 20 percent, officials said at the time.

McLennan County’s two largest districts are taking precautions to combat a steady stream of flu cases, but they have not seen enough cases to hamper operations overall.

Waco ISD nurses have reported sending home a couple students each day with the flu or flu-like symptoms, Waco ISD spokesman Kyle DeBeer said.

The district serves about 15,000 students. Officials have encouraged flu vaccinations and provided a link to a list of locations offering the service, he said.

Educators are also reinforcing hand washing and cough hygiene, and the custodial staff is remaining active to keep facilities clean and disinfected, DeBeer said.

Midway ISD reported more than 200 cases last week, but with a student population of more than 8,000, the impact has not hampered operations there either, said Cindy Milligan, executive secretary to the superintendent.

“Our custodial staff has been doing extra cleaning around the campuses,” Milligan said. “The absentee rate hasn’t been high. We’re seeing some, but it’s not been a high impact.”

The district has also sent letters home to remind families what symptoms to watch for, she said.


Shelly Conlon has covered K-12 education for the Tribune-Herald since July 2016. Prior to the Tribune-Herald, she was the managing editor for the Waxahachie Daily Light, and an intern for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

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