Illness, weather  close schools

Amidst a three-day closure due to illness and inclement weather, the Johnson County School District offered free lunch to any school-aged children in Johnson County Friday in an effort to alleviate both the struggles of families who might be without food due to either being on nutritional assistance programs or federal workers who had been furloughed during the partial U.S. government shutdown, according to Superintendent Thom Cochran.

The Johnson County School District closed down Wednesday amidst reports that a case of hepatitis A, alongside multiple cases of influenza A and B, had been discovered in schools within the district, according to a statement from Superintendent Thom Cochran, who said the school would be closed for “extra cleaning and disinfecting,” before another statement announced the school system would be closed for the rest of the week.

“This evening, I have been informed that there is a confirmed case of hepatitis A in our school district,” Cochran said Tuesday.

The statement said the case of hepatitis A was that of a staff member at Johnson County Middle School not working in a position related to food service. The statement also pointed out the requirement for students to receive a vaccination for the disease prior to enrollment for the 2018-2019 school year. 

Cochran said the closure was an “added precaution” and he stressed the importance of receiving the vaccination if a child had not done so. 

“If your child has completed this series of injections, then there should be no risk,” Cochran said. “However, if your child has not done so, please take this opportunity to obtain this immunization.”

On Wednesday, the district announced it would be closed the rest of the week due to widespread illness among students and the potential for inclement weather and low wind chill temperatures in the forecast, another statement said, before urging families to stay home as much as possible to curtail the spread of illness. 

“Due to illness, potential snow (and) ice covered roads on Thursday morning, and another snow threat on Thursday night along with cold temps/single digit windchill in the forecast, Johnson County Schools will be closed the remainder of the week,” the statement said. “Please stay home as much as possible to avoid the spread of illness. Have a safe and restful end to your week.”

In a statement Friday morning, the district announced it would still be offering a free lunch for any school-aged child in Johnson County as an effort to help kids who might not have food at home, and, Cochran said, families of local federal workers who might be suffering without paychecks during the partial government shutdown.

“We’re just trying to help the community and we also worry about the federal employees – our prison workers – during this shutdown,” Cochran said. “We’re just trying to glow out and make sure that anyone who needs a warm meal gets one.”

Cochran said the cleaning and disinfection of the school district had been completed as of Friday morning.

“Cleaning and disinfection has been completed at every school,” Cochran said. “At every school, all kitchens and all busses.”

As of presstime Friday, the district planned to return to regular schedule Monday morning and get back into normal operation. 

The Johnson County Schools Board of Education has its regular monthly meeting Monday at 5 p.m. in the Central Elementary School library and all meetings are open to the public.

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