Eaton hit with stomach bug, school closed Thursday, Friday
Staff Reports
After a relatively calm cold and flu season so far this year, students and teachers at Eaton Elementary School have contracted an apparent stomach bug this week, as more than 300 students and 20 teachers, which is close to half the school population, were not at school Wednesday.

"I think it’s more the stomach bug than the flu at this point (in) time, which is causing us to have great concern at this point,” Loudon County Director of Schools Jason Vance said.

He said “upwards of 350 or more” students were not at school Wednesday out of a total population of about 750. He said other facilities in the nine-school district experienced some occurrences of the stomach bug, but the illness was more widespread at Eaton.

Vance announced on social media at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday that Loudon County Schools would be closed Thursday and Friday.

“The numbers are less significant at the rest of our schools, but as the day progresses, we’re seeing more and more kids becoming ill,” Vance said. “And so, ultimately, we want to make sure that we’re providing an environment that’s safe and conducive to learning. I don’t know that we can say that the environment today is going to be very conducive to learning.”

Vance said this week’s bout of the stomach bug was the most significant sickness event in the school system in the last couple years, noting that the annual FluMist vaccine has been “very beneficial” in staving off the flu among students.

“We experienced a little bit of illness right before we got out for Christmas break, but it seems like it’s widespread” right now, he said about the stomach bug.