Beggs Superintendent Says Viral Meningitis Case Poses 'Little Danger' To Students, Staff

Thursday, December 16th 2010, 5:58 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

BEGGS, Oklahoma -- A case of viral meningitis forced a Green Country school to shut down early for Christmas break.

School officials in Beggs learned of the case late Wednesday night, so they canceled class Thursday, December 16, 2010, and Friday, December 17, 2010.

12/15/2010 Related Story: Beggs School Students Begin Christmas Break Early Due To Case Of Viral Meningitis

Meningitis is a serious disease but this is a case of the less dangerous viral meningitis, as opposed to the bacterial meningitis that struck Oologah schools last spring.

Still, Beggs schools will close the doors and keep students safe.

"I want to emphasize that we have been advised there is little danger to students, staff, and to the public," said Cindy Swearingen, Beggs Superintendent.

Superintendent Cindy Swearingen made the decision Wednesday night after learning a male 7th grader was in the hospital with viral meningitis. She also said a number of other students are sick as well and decided that beginning the Christmas break early was the safe step to take.

It's important to note that this is a case of viral meningitis and that's far different than bacterial meningitis, the disease Green Country is all too familiar with after last spring's outbreak in Oologah.

12/14/2010 Related Story: Company Helps Bring Christmas Joy To Oologah Meningitis Victim

Viral meningitis is caused by an infection, but it's usually mild, and patients tend to recover quickly. The superintendent says one reason she decided to close the school was to keep the students and parents from worrying.

"With technology the way it is today rumors spread very quickly via Facebook and text messaging and just the word meningitis within the public is a scare," she said.

"I'm glad that they've closed the school because I don't want to get it because I know it's serious," said Felicia Canady, a junior.

Felicia Canady and friends are all students in Beggs. They're pleased the school is shut down but they're worried about who may have had contact with the infected student.

"We don't know how long that they've had it and how long we've been walking around the school with them having it," said Malissa Gaines, a sophomore.

A local cleaning company has volunteered to clean classrooms, buses, and throughout the buildings. The superintendent is confident that any danger will be gone when school starts January 3rd.

Thursday night's basketball game against Haskell has been canceled. But Friday's game at Kellyville and Saturday's game at Checotah will be played as scheduled.