Rocky Mount, N.C. — A Rocky Mount school was closed Friday due to a high number of illnesses among students and staff.
According to its website, Faith Christian Academy, a pre-K through 12 private school, is dealing with an "extremely high number of confirmed illnesses," including strep throat, mononucleosis, colds, flu and pneumonia.
About 20 percent of the school's 400 students have had to call out sick within the last week, the school's headmaster, Edward Bunn, said.
"It was a common-sense decision," Bunn said. "We wanted to focus on the health of our students and our faculty and staff."
Over the unexpected three-day weekend, the school plans to spray all buildings with disinfectant.
"We felt it was more important to focus on the health in preparation for the academics coming up in another week with our midterm exams," Bunn said.
Dr. Daniel Minior, with Nash General Hospital, said shutting the school was a good move.
"All of these viral illnesses spread very easy from person to person, so isolation is definitely a good idea in the setting of a pandemic," Minior said.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services says health care providers are seeing an early increase in flu-like illnesses.
Flu usually peaks in midwinter.
Symptoms can include fever, cough, runny nose, head and body aches and fatigue. Some people also suffer vomiting and diarrhea, and some develop pneumonia or other severe complications.
The best ways to help prevent the virus are flu shots for anyone over 6 months old, especially people at high risk of complications, including pregnant women, people with chronic diseases, very young children and the elderly.