As Gulf County School District Superintendent Jim Norton prepares to close schools Friday because of a flu outbreak, some local school districts say the virus has spread west.

As Gulf County School District Superintendent Jim Norton prepares to close schools Friday because of a flu outbreak, some local school districts say the virus has spread west.

Santa Rosa County Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick said Wednesday that his district has seen an increase of flu and flu-like symptoms since the beginning of the year. 

"It hasn't reached the numbers of Gulf County, but we have seen an increase," Wyrosdick said.

In Gulf County, all schools will close Friday after more than 100 students were out sick at both schools in Port St. Joe and more than 60 were absent from Wewahitchka schools Wednesday.

“We have been advised by the health department and providers to close Friday and maybe the three-day weekend will provide us some distance,” Norton told The Port St. Joe Star, a weekly newspaper in Gulf County.

Faculty at all schools have been affected. Norton said the district is running out of substitute teachers and bus drivers.

In Walton County, Superintendent Russell Hughes said although the district has not experienced an unusual number of absences because of the flu, schools are working hard to prevent the virus.

Hughes said his office will send out instructions to each principal Thursday on how to best prevent a flu outbreak. He said custodians and bus drivers already have been instructed how to help prevent the spread of germs.

Teri Schroeder, program director of student services for Okaloosa County School District, said they also have distributed information on how to protect against the flu.

Schroeder referred all questions about student flu cases to PSA Healthcare, which handles information about student health. The Daily News was not able to receive the student flu information from PSA Healthcare by print time Wednesday.

In Gulf County, the Florida Department of Health will be at each elementary school Thursday to provide flu vaccinations.