Central Texas school district closes 'due to health concerns'

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CLIFTON, Texas (KWTX) The Clifton ISD is canceling classes for the rest of the week because of a high rate of illness-related absences.

(Photo by Rissa Shaw)

Clifton schools will be closed effective Wednesday through Monday, according to district officials.

"We've got a large number and percentage of students out with illness, districtwide," said Michael Kusler, Asst. Principal at Clifton Middle School.

Kusler said an estimated 20 percent or more of students and staff were absent due to illness.

"We have to try to get them all well, then reconvene next week."

Parents like Joe Holden supported the move.

"I think it's a great idea," said Holden. "It keeps the community from getting sick because it spreads, and it spreads quickly, and if we can nip it in the bud by missing three days of school, I think it's an absolutely fantastic idea."

Students agreed; not a single one approached by KWTX was upset about the closures, but some were concerned with the work to come later.

"I'm excited because we're out of school, but I also don't want to have to come back and make it up either, so it's kinda iffy," said Clifton HS senior Mikinzie Fitzhugh.

Although students were excited about getting a 'mini Spring Break' and having sleepovers, they said it was a rare decision for the district, and were startled by how serious it had become.

"It's exciting, but it's also shocking because Clifton goes through, we'll go through anything before we cancel school, it's a very big deal if Clifton cancels school for anything," said junior Kathryn Hill.

"There's people that showed up with masks in the Middle School and people supplying, handing-out masks, and the nurses office was overfilled today," said Hill.

Some teachers said they would be using the time to catch up on grading tests.

The closures, however, went beyond the classroom: all campus activities including softball, baseball, and power-lifting were also cancelled through Monday so the campuses could be cleaned.

"We're not going to have anything going on over this five day break because we're hopefully going to get them cleaned, sterile, and get the kids well," said Kusler.

Tuesday night's scheduled basketball games went on as scheduled, however.

Classes will resume on Monday to 'start fresh,' said Kulser.

Clifton ISD has a student population around 1,000 across three campuses.

District officials first announced the closures via social media Tuesday afternoon.

“Due to health concerns and increased student absences, all Clifton ISD campuses will be closed Wednesday, January 31-Friday, Feb. 2," the district posted on its Facebook page.

Most administrators were at a conference in Austin Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.