Flu outbreak closes Eau Claire Public Schools District

NOW: Flu outbreak closes Eau Claire Public Schools District

EAU CLAIRE, Mich. -- Less than one month after their superintendent unexpectedly passed away, the Eau Claire Public Schools District is working together to fight a flu outbreak that sent 140+ students home and closed the schools.

“I’ve had kids leave gym class with 103 fevers,” said Tom Ferry, a physical education teacher at Eau Claire’s Lybrook Elementary School.

“So we’re hoping that we’ve taken this preventative measure and we can get through a couple of days here and come back strong Thursday,” said David Waaso, the district’s new interim superintendent.

The Eau Claire Public Schools District has around 800 students.

On Monday, more than 140 of them had called in or gone home sick with the flu.

So the elementary school, middle and high school, and alternative school were all shut down on Tuesday and Wednesday for some deep disinfecting.

“We’re trying to clean every area, every piece that a child can touch during the day,” Waaso said.

“[We] just went through all the rooms, sprayed down floors, desks, chairs, doorknobs,” Ferry said. “When we ran out of spray, we went and did all the computer carts. We pulled out every single computer, wiped down the keyboards and screens and the whole computer itself.”

Several dozen faculty and staff members showed up to work on Tuesday not to teach, but to clean.

The flu outbreak comes less than one month after beloved Eau Claire Superintendent David Gray unexpectedly died.

Waaso, a retired southwest Michigan superintendent, administrator, and teacher, just started on Monday as interim superintendent.

He had to close down the schools after less than 24 hours on the job.

“I always felt like in my 39 years of education that if I ever had a chance to give back to a school or help mentor a new, incoming superintendent, I’d be happy to do that,” Waaso said.

“The staff has come together as a family,” said Ferry, who has worked in the district for 17 years and has two daughters enrolled. “It’s been nice to see how many people pitch in to help out with everything. It’s been a hard time, but we’re making adjustments and we’ll get through it.”

School will be back in session on Thursday.

Waaso said he is expecting to serve as interim superintendent until about mid-summer.

He said the district already has a current employee that they’d like to become superintendent, but having an interim will allow for a smooth transition.

David Gray’s family has established a scholarship in his name, the David A. Gray Memorial Scholarship Fund.

If you’re interested in contributing to it, you can reach out to the Eau Claire Public Schools District and send a check payable to Sharon Gray.

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