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Several WNY schools close Friday due to flu, widespread illness

Posted at 11:53 PM, Feb 06, 2020

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Thousands of people across New York state are sick with the flu.

"The flu has hit out district pretty hard," Dr. Robert Anderson said. He's the Superintendent at Gowanda Central School District, which is closed Friday because of the flu.

"We are going to be, as we do every day, disinfect and sanitize all the buildings, including the buses," Dr. Anderson said. He continued, "We'll let the building settle and hopefully we can break the flu cycle."

Dr. Anderson said 20% of students were out with the flu this week alone, but the main problem is staffing. There aren't enough substitutes to replace the number of teachers out sick.

"We just don't have the bodies to manage the school effectively," Dr. Anderson said.

Gowanda Central Schools isn't the only one canceling class. Widespread illness is part of the reason both Cattaraugus-Little Valley and Salamanca City Central Schools are also closing Friday. Last month, West Valley Central Schools had to shut down for the same reason.

"We actually had 64 students out on the one day and we only have 200 students," West Valley Superintendent, Eric Lawton, said. His district had to close last month due to flu and strep taking over the hallways. But like in Gowanda, about a third of West Valley teachers called out sick.

"We just didn't have enough to cover in house, so we thought, let's let everybody heal up," Lawton said. He added the extra day off helped immensely.

"We still have students out and faculty out, but it's not nearly what it was before," Lawton said.