ASTORIA, Ore. (KOIN) -- An elementary school in northwestern Oregon had to close Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to stem a flu outbreak that has affected about 43 percent of the students, along with several teachers and staff.
Instead of learning in classrooms, hundreds of students at Hilda Lahti Elementary School in Knappa stayed home Tuesday, getting rest while the school custodians disinfect their school, which houses grades K-6th grade.
The decision came after some classes only saw 4 healthy students Monday, according to Superintendent Paulette Johnson.
Principal Leila Collier said, "Very empty, very unusual. We usually see a lot of kids in the hallways doing things and a scuffle of activity, but not today."
In her 30 plus years as an educator, Collier said she's never seen a school close because of a flu outbreak.
"We are asking to keep their students home for an additional 24 hours after they're symptom-free to help from spreading it. That hopefully includes some extracurricular activities that they have outside of school as well," Collier said.
According to the principal, it's not just the flu that's causing sickness at the school, but it's most likely the primary reason.
Collier said, "Hopefully kids are home getting better and the staff, so that's what our whole goal is -- everybody being able to come back and be better."
The younger students seem to have it bad.
Clatsop County Public Health Director Michael McNickle said, "They're all little kids. Little kids are not exactly the most hygienic things around. They have a tendency to spread germs amongst themselves, so it's not too surprising that once one kid gets it, he shares with his friends, they share with their friends and then you have an outbreak."
According to McNickle, parents need to make sure their kids are washing their hands or at least using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
"Make sure your kids learn to cough and sneeze -- cover them and not spread them all over the place," McNickle said.
The Oregon Health Authority told KOIN 6 News they've received dozens of reports of flu outbreaks all over Oregon in the last few weeks, so it's a critical time to be diligent about not spreading the flu, if you have it.
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