- Dozens of Rhinelander students called in sick, forcing the district to shut down early last month. But
teachers weren't immune either. It got so bad that there weren't enough substitute teachers on hand to
fill in for the sick staff. The district is now recruiting more subs to be better prepared for another
outbreak. Rhinelander schools went into the year with what they thought was a solid plan. But directors
of instructions, Terri Maney says nature had other plans. "The pertussis did not only affect students, it
affected staff," says Maney.
Students and teachers started getting sick in mid-December. Maney says
they went into this school year with more substitute teachers than ever before. But they never planned
for a pertussis outbreak. At one point, 1 in 5 students contacted the disease along with teachers calling
"We had pretty much depleted our sub-pool," said Maney.
Rhinelander canceled three extra days
of class before winter break. Since the outbreak, the district began recruiting more substitutes to avoid
canceling school again. "When you have such a high need, they get used up pretty quickly," said Maney.
The district is now paying closer attention to students with symptoms of pertussis. There have been just
2 confirmed cases since January 9th."But because it is so easily communal we wanted to make sure we
are protecting the students, staff and community from further spreading the disease," explained Maney.
High school nurse, Kerri Schmidt, told us that it takes up to two weeks to fully confirm a person with the
disease. "Pertussis is a disease that begins with cold-like symptoms. So, it can be very difficult to
identify initially. Many people don't even realize they have pertussis," said Schmidt.
The district now has
128 subs available. These are shared with other districts. Maney says any Bachelor's Degree is required
to substitute teach.