One-third of students at GBR out sick today; virus suspectedMitchell School District and state health officials are investigating the cause of an illness that has one-third of the students at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary out sick today.
By: Seth Tupper, The Daily Republic
UPDATED 11:19 a.m.
Mitchell School District and state health officials are investigating the cause of an illness that has one-third of the students at Gertie Belle Rogers Elementary out sick today.
Superintendent Joe Graves said the mass absences at the school began Tuesday with 30-35 students. Today, about 115 of the school’s roughly 400 students are out sick.
Graves said the school has received a test result indicating that at least one of the students is suffering from the Norwalk virus.
"It's a normal but fast-moving form of stomach flu," Graves said.
School and state Health Department officials investigated possible causes within the school building — including the school lunch program — but found nothing, Graves said. He noted that some of the children who are sick did not eat the school lunch.
“We’re trying to investigate every possible lead we can,” he said.
The symptoms reported by the ill students include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pains.
The mass illnesses have come at an odd time of year. Graves said it’s common to experience widespread illnesses during the winter, but it’s rare to experience them in the spring just ahead of this year’s May 24 end of the school year.
Graves said seven employees are out sick at GBR in addition to the students. Some illnesses have been reported at other schools in the city, but nothing to the extent of what has happened at GBR. Graves said the district will continue to monitor those other schools and investigate the cause of the illnesses today.