Wis. Dells school district to close until Monday - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Wis. Dells school district to close until Monday


WISCONSIN DELLS (WKOW) -- All schools in the Wisconsin Dells district closed Tuesday because so many kids are sick.

The schools will not reopen until Monday, October 12th.

The closed schools are - Neenah Creek Elementary, Spring Hill Elementary, Spring Hill Middle School, Lake Delton Elementary, and Wisconsin Dells High School.

The Columbia County Health Department has not confirmed if this is an outbreak of the H1N1 virus.

Custodians spent Tuesday disinfecting Wisconsin Dells High School, after 180 of the school's 579 students stayed home sick.

"I noticed most of my classes had 11 students, where normally we would have 20 or 22," said Junior Kelsie Christensen.

Principals went door to door, surveying every classroom, taking stock of those who came to class.

"When the principals went around and said, 'Fess up. Are you sick?', Kids raised their hands, went to the office, and called their parents," said Charles Whitsell, district administrator. "And we sent home another 100 kids because they were exhibiting flu-like symptoms and probably shouldn't have been at school."

Administrators say Wisconsin Dells is a very rural district. A large percentage of students ride buses, and that would mean other students could easily get sick.

The closures go across the board -- every activity, athletic practice, contest, and field trip -- canceled.

"A big football game against Adams-Friendship High School Friday night -- that's been canceled," Whitsell said. "Junior varsity and freshman games and contests, volleyball matches -- canceled."

For students like Kelsie Christensen, it means forfeiting tennis sectionals, a season-ending move.

"It's a disappointment," she said. "We worked really hard from the beginning of the school year till now, just to have it end like this. We've had practice five days a week, two hours long. We've done conditioning, and running."

Administrators say they admire students' commitment to school, but showing up means the possibility other students could get sick.

"I wish it could be different, but when they shut down the activities, they shut it down lock stock and barrel," said Whitsell.

As for, Kelsie, she'll have to will have to wait until next year to add to the school trophy case.

The student illnesses also pose a problem for neighboring schools.

The district says students from the Dells will not be allowed to attend events at other schools, for fear the illness could spread.

That includes sporting events and homecoming.

According to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, schools don't have to close just because there are confirmed cases of H1N1. The decision is made on a case by case basis.

E-mail Jeff Angileri -- jangileri@wkowtv.com



WISCONSIN DELLS (WKOW) -- Wisconsin Dells School District officials announced late Tuesday afternoon they will close all schools through Sunday, October 11, due to a "high rate of absenteeism among students with influenza like illness."

School leaders tell 27 News at 180 high school students were absent from class Tuesday, with flu-like symptoms. That is nearly a third of Wisconsin Dells High School's 579 students.

The closure decision includes:

  • Neenah Creek Elementary
  • Spring Hill Elementary
  • Spring Hill Middle School
  • Wisconsin Dells High School
  • Lake Delton Elementary

School leaders say there was lower absenteeism at the middle school and elementary schools... reporting 7% to 12% of students sick.

District officials say they consulted with the Columbia County Health Department, who advised them to close the schools.

The district plans to re-open on Monday, October 12. 

According to a news release issued by district officials Tuesday, "The high rate of absenteeism has decreased the ability to maintain necessary school functioning. Based on the assessment of the information available, school closure is a reasonable and necessary step to prevent, suppress, and control influenza like illness. This school closure order encompasses the cancellation of all school activities and precludes public gatherings in all schools until further notice."

We will bring you more details on the closings and the reasons behind it as they become available here on our web channel, WKOWTV.com and Tonight on 27 News at 10.

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