With attendance up, Hawkins school director says Friday flu day off was a success

Jeff Bobo • Feb 4, 2020 at 8:30 PM

ROGERSVILLE — With Hawkins County school attendance above 90% on both Monday and Tuesday this week, both for students and faculty, Director of Schools Matt Hixson said he believes Friday’s off day has been a success so far in curbing the spread of flu.

Last week, the flu epidemic hit Hawkins County Schools hard, with student attendance dipping as low as 80% in some schools. Those hit hardest included Bulls Gap School and St. Clair Elementary.

Hixson said many staff members and bus drivers are being hit with both the flu and stomach viruses. Last Tuesday, 29 teachers were absent systemwide, as well as six bus drivers and 18 non-certified staff.

Last Tuesday, Hixson announced that classes were canceled for Friday (Jan. 31), and teachers and staff would be spending that Thursday evening and/or Friday disinfecting their classrooms and common areas.

When Hawkins County schools reopened Monday, overall student attendance was just under 91%, which slightly decreased Tuesday to right at 90%.

“We are still holding our own, and I think based on the fact we were in the 80s last week, it (the day off) did help,” Hixson told the Times News Tuesday.

He added, “We will monitor attendance for both staff and students over the next several days. We are holding our own and actually improving a bit compared to last week. The day off worked, as far as the numbers demonstrate. We were near 84% (countywide) at the end of the week.”

On Tuesday, there were 30 teachers absent due to illness, which set teacher attendance at roughly 92%. Hixson noted that teacher attendance had dipped into the 80% range late last week as well.

“Our goal is to keep students in school if at all possible,” Hixson said. “We have 180 days with kids before considering inclement weather days and unplanned issues. If we can maintain a safe and clean school environment, and parents are working with us in keeping their students home when ill, we can make it through flu season and make the most of our limited instructional days.”

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