BRUNSWICK - An early and aggressive influenza outbreak sickened more than 100 students, forcing administrators to close St. Ambrose Catholic School in Brunswick Wednesday.
Students and staff stayed home to keep the contagious virus from spreading further.
70 students were absent with the flu Monday. By Tuesday, that number skyrocketed to 110 of the school’s 506 K-8 students, or nearly a quarter of the student body. At least four teachers were also out sick.
“With teachers and staff members out as well, we made the decision it would be better to be proactive and have school canceled today to allow students to get healthy and prevent the spread of this,” said St. Ambrose School principal Nathan Baxendale.
Crews completed a floor to ceiling clean of the school Tuesday night and Wednesday, disinfecting all surfaces students come into contact with, including chairs, desks, and door knobs.
“We have such a close community here at Saint Ambrose. Our children go to school together, they play together, their families all know each other,” Saint Ambrose Parish Pastor Father Bob Stec said. “We needed to physically separate the kids for a day to break the cycle of the flu.”
School leaders said they hope canceling school will stop the spread of the virus, especially with an all-school concert and family event planned for Saturday.
“We wanted to make sure everybody was ready to come together and celebrate the joy of the season,” Stec said. “Unfortunately, I think we're leading the region this season.”
Administrators said Saint Ambrose School is expected to reopen Thursday. They encourage any students showing flu-like symptoms to stay home.