A flu outbreak has prompted Whitehall School District to temporarily shut its doors.
Officials said Thursday the district's three schools - Memorial High School, Sunset Elementary and Pigeon Falls Elementary - will close until Tuesday. All school activities are also canceled until then.
"During the week, we have been in contact with the Trempealeau County Health Department, and after serious consideration, I have opted to make this decision in the best interest of the overall health and wellness of our students and staff," Superintendent Mike Beighley said in a prepared statement.
About 150 of the 780 district's students called in sick with seasonal flu or swine flu each day this week, district registrar Sonja Lyngen said. Ten percent of the staff is also sick - numbers Lyngen says are much higher than usual.
Lyngen, who has worked at the school for 34 years, says she has witnessed only one flu outbreak as serious as this one. But that outbreak, in the 1980s, was later in the flu season. "It's awfully early into the flu season for this," she said. "And we have no idea how bad it will get."
A team of custodians will disinfect the lockers, classrooms and buses during the next few days. Officials hope the move improves health and keeps kids in their desks, but there is no way to tell if their precautions will help.
"Everyone is nervous about it," Lyngen said. "There are certainly a lot of people very sick."