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Friday, October 31, 2008
Unable to find enough teachers, Ga. district cancels school

ESPN.com news services

Call it a case of the Red and Black flu.

Tired of struggling to find enough teachers to staff its classrooms on the Friday before the annual Georgia-Florida football game, the Clarke County (Ga.) School District -- which includes Athens, home of the University of Georgia -- decided to cancel school altogether.

According to area media reports, 137 teachers last year called in sick the day before the big game, and the district was able to find only 113 substitutes.

School administrators studied the absences over the years and found a pattern -- almost twice as many teachers call in sick the Friday before the annual game in Jacksonville, Fla., about 360 miles away, than on an average school day.

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So the district decided to call off school the Friday before the game. And Clarke County is not alone; the schools in nearby Madison and Oglethorpe counties also are taking the day off.

Although some parents and teachers are questioning whether the day off places too much emphasis on football over academics, at least one school administrator believes it's a wise move on the district's part.

"I've heard parents say that it's ridiculous, but the reality of the situation is, if there are so many people in this system and this community that go to the game -- if that's a reality -- it's irresponsible [to have school on that day] if that really is our community," said Barrow Elementary School principal Tad MacMillan, according to the Athens Banner-Herald. "I think the school system is wise to factor that in when they plan the calendar."