Suffolk Christian Academy closed due to illness

Published 3:18 pm Thursday, February 9, 2017

Suffolk Christian Academy was closed for the third day in a row on Thursday due to a variety of illnesses affecting its students and staff.

“It’s not one particular illness,” said Headmaster Tamra VanDorn. “It’s multiple things.”

VanDorn said about 40 students were out of school or were sent home on Monday. The school decided that day to close for Tuesday and Wednesday.

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“That day in particular we were sending kids home with fever, so that was the first of the real flu symptoms we were seeing,” VanDorn said.

But students have also come down with sinus infections, ear infections and strep throat, among other things, she said.

School staff disinfected the classrooms and common areas before leaving on Monday, VanDorn said. At least one of the churches — the elementary school is housed at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, with the upper school at Southside Baptist Church — did so again, she said.

Come Wednesday night, VanDorn decided the school needed to close again on Thursday. But this time, it was due to staff outages.

“I had coverage all the way up until 9 o’clock last night,” VanDorn said Thursday.

The first 12 outages were covered, but when the 13th and 14th staff members called in sick, it became apparent the school would have to close once again.

It was not just teacher outages but also lunch crew, custodians and security who were going to be out, VanDorn said.

“I was trying to make sure I had all the right credentialed people in the right places,” she said.

They weren’t all due to illness — one person had jury duty, and another person attended a funeral out of state and has been unable to return to Virginia due to snow.

“We trust that God does work in mysterious ways,” VanDorn said. “Apparently, our school family needed some rest this week.”

Because Thursday’s day off was not due to student illness, basketball games were set to go on as scheduled Thursday. The school plays its home games at Wilroy Baptist Church.

However, student-athletes were asked not to come to play if they were feeling ill, VanDorn said.

“We want to make sure we do what’s in the best interest of all of the kids,” VanDorn said. “We know it affected the parents, which is what made it so hard. I do care about that. We’re serious about taking care of our school family.”