Nearly 800 of School's Students Were Absent on Wednesday

Not due to COVID, but a 'highly contagious' gastrointestinal bug that's closed Alabama school
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 29, 2024 8:43 AM CST
Nearly 800 of School's Students Were Absent on Wednesday
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/buraratn)

As one Florida elementary school deals with measles, another in Alabama is contending with a "gastrointestinal outbreak" that kept nearly 800 students out of school in just one day. WKRG reports that Fairhope West Elementary School is now closed Thursday and Friday after 773 students called in on Wednesday, either because they were sick or their parents feared them getting sick, leaving just 200 or so kids in class. A spokesperson from Baldwin County Public Schools tells that more than four dozen staff members were also out on Wednesday. It's not clear how many of the individuals absent were actually sick.

According to a release from the Alabama Department of Public Health, which is collecting samples and conducting tests, nausea and vomiting appear to be the two prominent symptoms, reports Gulf Coast Media. "We're treating it ... like norovirus, and it is highly contagious," Dr. Alison Rudd, who heads up the school district's health services, tells WKRG. Meanwhile, parents say the illness is a "messy" one.

"Around 11 o'clock last night, it all fell apart," the mom of one fourth-grader at the school told WKRG on Wednesday, adding, "No one is sleeping." The building is set to be "sanitized to the fullest extent" during its temporary closure, per BCPS Superintendent Eddie Tyler; classes will resume on Monday. Fairhope East Elementary School has also reported incidents of the illness, but for now, that school remains open. (More norovirus stories.)

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