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Ohio school district temporarily closes, citing rise in COVID-19 and respiratory illness

The district’s absentee rate has risen by 315% over the span of one week.

LEESBURG, Ohio — An Ohio school district is temporarily closing to combat rising absences at its schools linked to respiratory illness and COVID-19. 

In an announcement posted Monday, Superintendent of Fairfield Local Schools Tim Dettwiller announced all schools will remain closed for the remainder of the week. Dettwiller said, as of Monday morning, 14.5% of the student population was absent due to illness. 

“This percentage does not include students from today who are being placed in quarantine so we expect these numbers to rise,” said Dettwiller. 

According to the post, the district’s absentee rate rose by 315% over the span of one week. Dettwiller said the absences have been linked to respiratory illnesses such as Rhinovirus and bronchial infections, as well as COVID-19. 

The announcement comes as the Ohio Department of Health reports a rise in respiratory illness across the state. 

According to Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Bruce Vanderhoff, more children are being hospitalized with an "unexpected summer surge" of illnesses linked to RSV, Rhinovirus and other respiratory infections.  

Dettwiller said the district is following its past protocols with this week’s closure. 

“In 2019 we shut down as our flu absences were above 10% in just one building,” said Dettwiller, who added the school is expected to resume on Aug. 30. 

“It is my hope that this break allows us to get everyone healthy and back to school next Monday,” said Dettwiller. 

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