PARIS, Ky. (WKYT) - UPDATE: Students at Paris Independent Schools got an early start to their weekend after a quick-spreading sickness infected nearly a third of the students.
With 30 percent of students out sick, which at Paris Elementary School is roughly 100 students, school officials had to do something to stop the virus from spreading. Superintendent Gary Wiseman says he decided to go ahead and cancel classes Friday at all Paris Independent Schools.
Beginning at 5:00 a.m. Friday morning, custodial workers started disinfecting all of the buildings. School officials say the problem is largely with the elementary school students.
Pediatricians say that's likely because younger children don't wash their hands as often as they should and are more likely to share drinks and food with their friends. While the virus does have some flu-like symptoms, pedestrians say its just a stomach virus and the extra day off should give students plenty of time to recover.
"We're seeing stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting. Typically it's going to last several days at the most. Usually they'll recover very quickly. So with the upcoming weekend, hopefully by Monday things will be in good shape," says Dr. Richard West, a pediatrician who's seen several children with the virus.
Officials say schools will be back in session on Monday.
The instructions at the Paris Elementary School are clear no skateboarding, no rollerblading, and another sign has the most important rule for Friday, no school.
However, this is not a fun break, it's a way to stop a quick-spreading sickness that kept nearly a third of the school at home.
"It hit us pretty fast," said Superintendent Gary Wiseman of the apparent virus that's affecting so many. "We were not really experiencing any major difficulties, at all, until today. Then we probably had 70% attendance in our elementary, today."
With 30% out sick, which at this school was roughly 100 students, the Paris Independent School had to do something to stop the spread. Wiseman said the illness has also caught on to teacher's at staff at the school, after ten of them had to call in sick today.
"It got our attention," he said.
One elementary-aged child told me there were eight students in his class today, that's less than half of the 19 that are supposed to be there.
"It just spreads quickly and when there's no where to go, it's just much more likely to catch that virus," described Drew Beckett of the Bourbon County Health Department.
Beckett was called in to help the schools get control of the illness, "With this extra day off, here at the schools, we've really instructed how to deep clean the schools."
Wiseman said the problem is largely with the younger students, but a few middle school students have shown the same symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting. The superintendent said there hasn't been any high schoolers showing any signs of sickness, still that's not stopping him from canceling all of Friday.
"We know we're a small school, a small community. We know when they go home (they're around) siblings and all of that, we just think it's safer to call the district off tomorrow and give a chance to get well," he said.
While the doors will be closed at all Paris Independent Schools, it won't stop any outside events like the team's playoff game Friday night. According to the superintendent, this is his first time to cancel school due to an illness and he said it will likely be made up at the end of the school year.