Flu outbreak prompts Florida district to close schools Friday

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

A Florida school district said Thursday that it plans to cancel classes Friday in an effort to contain the spread of flu in the area.

The Gulf Coast district schools in Gulf County, in Florida’s Panhandle, will be the latest to close at least one day because of the spread of influenza, which has claimed the lives of at least 30 children across the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Schools in at least a dozen states have closed at least one day this flu season, Newsweek reported.

In the Gulf Coast district, “We have had 20 percent of our student population out every day this week,” Schools Superintendent Jim Norton told the Port St. Joe Star.

“It is also impacting our faculties,” Norton said. “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 were scheduled to reopen Monday, the Miami Herald reported.

On Tuesday, a 12-year-old student at West Palm Beach Okeeheelee Middle School student died of the flu.

Seventh-grader Dylan Winnik was the third Florida child to die from the flu this season, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Health officials have been urging the public to get a flu shot.

States that have closed schools because of flu outbreaks include Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia, Newsweek reported.

CDC information about influenza is available by clicking here.