NISKAYUNA, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Birchwood Elementary School in Niskayuna will be closed on Friday due to the significant number of student absences this week, including many confirmed cases of the flu.

The Niskayuna Central School District confirmed the closure in a post to its website on Thursday and a letter sent to parents:

Jan. 23, 2019

Dear Birchwood Families,

Please note that we have a need to close Birchwood School tomorrow, Friday, Jan. 24, due to significant absences this week, including many confirmed cases of the flu. We recognize that this is an inconvenience, but our primary concern is the health and wellness of all students and staff.

Closing the school will also provide an opportunity for our custodial staff to do extra cleaning of the school to eliminate germs. It is our hope that this day and the weekend will provide time to help stop the spread of illness. We plan to open on our regular schedule on Monday.

Please note that all other Niskayuna schools will be open on Friday, Jan. 24.

We have been in contact with the Schenectady County Department of Health. A resource for parents that we wish to share is “The Flu: A Guide for Parents” from the State Department of Health, which is accessible at

For those students who are ill, we want to emphasize the importance of keeping them home at least 24 hours after the fever is gone.

If you have any questions, we recommend contacting your family physician. You may also reach out to our District Nurse Coordinator Carol Werblin at Van Antwerp Middle School, (518) 370-1243, ext. 20707.

Thank you for your attention to this information. We understand that this unplanned closure is not ideal, but feel it is necessary for the health of students and staff.


Cosimo Tangorra, Jr., Ed.D.

A district representative responded to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton’s phone call Friday confirming around 20 percent of the 380 student body had called in absences, plus confirmed cases of flu among both students and teachers.

The rep goes on to say the school underwent a through cleaning will students, teachers and staff were away Friday. Other Niskayuna schools remained open.

Albany Med attending physician Dr. Danielle Wales sat down for a reminder of ways to prevent flu germs from spreading in your home or classroom.

“Kids are very inquisitive and curious. They like touching things with their hands, a lot of times they’ll put their hands in their mouth. They are often times around other kids or other adults who might be caring for them who could be sick,” she explains.

Dr. Wales says this is why safe hand hygiene is so important. She advises to always wash your hands and clean surfaces thoroughly. You should also be aware and cautious for the health of those around you.

“If you don’t have access to a tissue, sneeze into your elbow, kind of like a vampire. Lots of kids are actually very good at demonstrating this once they’re taught,” she says while demonstrating.

Finally, she says to just stay home if you feel unwell.

“Your health should be the number one priority,” Dr. Wales says.