Health & Fitness

A Florida county will shut its schools after flu outbreak hits teachers and students

A nurse gives a flu shot in this Sept. 17, 2015, file photo.
A nurse gives a flu shot in this Sept. 17, 2015, file photo. AP

A school district in the Florida Panhandle said Thursday it will close its two elementary schools and two high schools on Friday due to a flu outbreak that has led 1 in 5 students to call in sick, along with dozens of teachers.

“We have had 20 percent of our student population out every day this week,” Gulf Coast Schools Superintendent Jim Norton told the Port St. Joe Star Thursday. “It is also impacting our faculties. We were having a real tough time getting substitutes. … We were running out of substitute teachers and we were running out of bus drivers. It just made sense to be proactive.”

Schools in Gulf County, home of Port St. Joe and near Apalachicola, are scheduled to reopen Monday.

In South Florida, schools will be open in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

This year’s flu season is becoming increasingly virulent.

On Tuesday, West Palm Beach Okeeheelee Middle School student, Dylan Winnik, 12, died from influenza.

The seventh grader had a cold for about two days before he died. He was the third child in Florida to die from the flu this season, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Across the country, 30 children have died from the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health officials strongly urge people to get a flu shot. To locate places administering flu shots in Florida, check with your doctor or click here for a list of sites.

At least 12 other states — including Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia — have closed schools in numerous districts due to the flu, Newsweek reported.

Follow @HowardCohen

  Comments