West Elementary School

School officials announced West Elementary School's winter break is starting early because of a high absentee rate related to illnesses. A half day planned for Wednesday has been canceled.

Students at West Elementary School will start their winter break a day early, after district officials decided to close the campus because of an increase in absentee rates tied to contagious illnesses, Superintendent David Truitt said Tuesday.

Wednesday was supposed to be a half day for the campus, but with the absentee rate close to 20 percent, administrators decided Monday it was best to close for the entire day instead, Truitt said. The school is seeing typical wintertime colds and flu-like illnesses, not one specific illness, he said.

West Middle School and West High School will continue normal schedules, with final exams wrapping up Wednesday, he said. Absentee rates for the two campuses have remained normal the rest of the year, so starting winter break a day early is just an early Christmas present for the 538 elementary students, Truitt said.

“They’re thrilled actually. … We’re just taking the necessary steps to protect them and the staff,” he said. “When the kids are sick, the staff are sick.”

The early closure will give the district a jump start on cleaning, sterilizing and disinfecting the campus before school starts again Jan. 8, he said.

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