PIKEVILLE, Ky. – An eastern Kentucky school district with one confirmed case of antibiotic-resistant staph infection plans to shut down all 23 of its schools Monday, affecting about 10,300 students, to disinfect the facilities.
The project will involve disinfecting classrooms, restrooms, cafeterias, hallways, locker rooms, buses and even external areas such as playgrounds and sports fields, said Roger Wagner, superintendent of Pike County schools.
"We're not closing schools because there's been a large number of breakouts, but as a preventive measure," Wagner said.
One Pike County student was diagnosed with in September with MRSA, or "methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus." The bacterial strain can be treated with other antibiotics, but without treatment it can be deadly.
The bacteria was blamed for the death of a 17-year-old Virginia high school senior this month. At least seven students on New York's Long Island were recently diagnosed with MRSA, as were 10 members of an athletic team at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. However, a government report has estimated it may sicken more than 90,000 Americans each year.
Two weeks ago, students staged a sit-in at the lunch room of Pike Central High School in effort to get school officials to clean the school as protection against the bacteria.
Most abandoned the sit-in after Principal David Rowe threatened them with a three-day suspension, but 33 stayed and were given the choice of one day of in-school suspension or two days out-of-school suspension. Three chose out-of-school suspension.