<!--:es-->Cleburne district closes all schools over flu concerns<!--:-->

Cleburne district closes all schools over flu concerns

CLEBURNE — All schools in the Cleburne district were closed on Wednesday after four high school students were found to be highly probable to have swine influenza. Officials are asking day care centers in the city to close as well.

All school-related events and travel have been canceled. Parents are being asked to keep children at home so that potential spreading can be prevented. The city’s weekend Spring fest and Cinco de Mayo events have also been canceled.

“This is nothing to panic over, but precautions we need to take to prevent spreading,” Cleburne Mayor Ted Reynolds said. Officials said the students who may have the illness, ages 15-17, are doing well and have not been hospitalized.

Ronny Beard, superintendent of the nearly 7,000-student district, said he closed the high school and two alternative schools after learning the teens likely had the illness around 4:30 a.m. As news spread, he said many parents began lining up at schools throughout the district to pick up their children out of concern.

He then closed all schools for the rest of the week. This week is state testing in the critical math and science areas, which help determine whether school’s meet state or federal accountability standards.

“If we kept schools open, many of these students would not be able to retest and they would have failed because of it,” he said. “The district would not have meet (federal standards) because of so many absences we were seeing. It couldn’t have happened at a worse time.”

The teens being treated have younger siblings in the district but have been confined at home, he said.

“All schools are being disinfected and scrubbed down,” he said. City authorities said they will ask any children congregating in public to go home.

Joe Zoretic, a regional director with the Texas Department of State Health Services, said he suggested Beard close the schools though the cases were not confirmed yet because of the high number of suspected cases. With the strain being so new and many things unknown, Zoretic said social distancing is the best plan of action to slow the spread.