HANCOCK -- Hancock Central School was forced to close Tuesday, after a majority of students and staff fell ill on Monday.
Principal Jeanne Filiault said Tuesday that with 64 percent of the school's 39 students out sick Monday, and another five or six being sent home after coming to school that day, the decision was made to close the school.
In addition, only two of the school's five teachers hadn't gotten sick as of Monday, and even the school nurse was out sick, she said.
"I've never seen anything so contagious. It has just been spreading like wildfire through the school," she said.
Classes are expected to resume today.
About 50 students in preschool through sixth grade attend the school. While the student population is 39 on Mondays, it varies during the week depending on the number of children attending preschool each day.
Filiault said while the school was closed, the entire building was going to be disinfected.
"We're hoping to open [today], but will still may have very low numbers," she said.
She said students and staff began getting sick late last week, and everyone has had similar symptoms.
"It was very strange. We had kids in school who had no fever, but were just very tired. In fact, a couple of kids fell asleep," she said.
Eventually, students began experiencing "very high fevers," she said.
Filiault, who herself is sick, said that based on information from her doctor, she believes it's a strain of the flu -- one not covered by the flu shot -- that has been causing problems at the school.
William Ballen, superintendent of Shaker Mountain School Union, which includes Hancock, said he was very surprised when he received a call from Filiault on Monday night about the number of students and staff who were sick.
"We didn't want to open the school if there wasn't enough staff, and 50 to 70 percent of the kids were out," he said.
The day off will be treated like a snow day and be made up at the end of the school year in June, he said.
He does remember one time several years ago when either Hancock or Richmond Consolidated School, which is also in the superintendency union, had to be closed because of a number of students being absent with some sort of virus or flu, he said.
Timothy Payne, principal of Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown, said the school currently doesn't seem to be experiencing the same situation as Hancock.
"I met with the school nurse this morning, and we seem to be going along OK," he said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email email@example.com.