A heightened number of students and staff with severe symptoms of the flu and strep throat has forced Italy ISD to close until Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Italy ISD Superintendent Lee Joffre said the district had about 30 cases of the flu reported and around 25 separate cases of strep throat. Concerns grew after several students were sent home with a fever around midweek.

“We had 24 students in one day be sent home with a fever,” Joffre stated.

After he consulted with principals and school nurses, Joffre said the district made the final decision to cancel school in order to sanitize the building and to allow students to recover.

“We also had about 20 percent of our instructional staff out sick,” Joffre informed. “In a small district, it is difficult to get substitutes. When you have a high number of students and staff out, it has a negative effect on the instructional environment.”

Overall, IISD has 622 students. There are about 350 students at the elementary level, and about 50 of those are out of class and confirmed sick.

Joffre has been with the district for the past seven years and doesn’t recall ever shutting down due to a flu outbreak. His advice to parents is to keep their children home until they are fever free for 24 hours or more.