By Sharon Stevens Education Reporter

St. Francois County, MO (KSDK) - A surge of sickness is hitting a lot of students.

So many that the North St. Francis County R-1 School District may have to cancel class for a couple of days.

St. Francois County is reporting 19 confirmed cases of influenza since October 14. The local superintendent says the flu or flu-like illnesses have spread so fast it's scary.

In the last week, 500 students called in sick.

Several times a day at North county Primary School desks are wiped down with a sanitizer. The same happens with water fountains and computers.

North St. Francois County School District officials say the entire system has been affected by this year's influenza outbreak.

"When you have the ones who are sick and they continue to come and there's no separation, it spreads more rapidly. In about a three day period, we saw a 10 to 12 percent drop in attendance," said Superintendent Dr. Yancy Poorman.

Not only has the illness spread rapidly, but Poorman says more students are staying out longer. Some as long as seven days.

Jackie Lindsey is concerned about her grandson.

"It's so bad on the little ones. It's bad enough on the big ones too. But I do worry. But you know, I just say it's just something in the air. It's the weather too," said Lindsey.

There are about 15 ionizers in the school. Custodians say they get rid of about 98 percent of the germs in the air and is one of their biggest weapons in the fight against the flu.

If attendance in the school district drops below 80 percent for two days straight, the district plans to call off classes for at least two days next week.

"If we continue to spend and operate and keep the buildings open when such a low amount of the student population is here, we just don't feel like that's fiscally responsible," said Poorman.

If the district does cancel classes, the days will have to be made up at the end of the school year.