Officials at Westford Academy are disinfecting the school after four students were diagnosed with MRSA and staph infections, according to a letter published on the school's website on Wednesday.
Everett Olsen, Jr., superintendent of schools in Westford, wrote a letter to parents and guardians about the school's actions. Olsen also asked that parents look over Massachusetts Department of Public health fact sheets with their children.
MRSA is a staph bacteria that is resistant to certain types of antibiotics, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MRSA is spread through direct contact with someone else's infection, sharing personal items like towels or razors that have touched infected skin and touching things such as used bandages that are contaminated.
"We don't take this lightly at all," Olsen said. "We're doing everything we are expected to do by the department of public health and hopefully the number of cases will not grow."
Olsen said that of the four students diagnosed, three are athletes. Officials suspect the outbreak may be associated with the locker rooms, which is where they're focusing.
"Westford Academy understands the urgency in addressing these infections immediately, and will continue to disinfect locker rooms, gym mats and equipment," Olsen noted in his letter. "In addition, all coaches are reviewing with their athletes the signs and symptoms, as well as methods to prevent Staph infections."
Olsen also urged parents to launder their kids' gym clothes, gym bags, towels, athletic uniforms and related items.
No classes were in session at Westford Academy on Thursday because of previously scheduled school conferences.
"We had no school planned for today anyway, so it gave us a great opportunity to disinfect surfaces," Olsen said. "And over the weekend we'll disinfect every desk in the school just to make sure we kill off any source of the bacteria."
Classes will resume on Friday, Olsen said.
He also noted that Westford Academy went through this five years ago when there was an incident of MRSA at the high school as well as at many other schools throughout Massachusetts.