Students sent home after numerous reports of illness
WESTON, Fla. (WSVN) -- Students at a local elementary school were sent home Friday after several complained of having diarrhea, fever and vomiting, symptoms that had school officials taking preventative measures to stop the spread of what many believe is a stomach-related illness.
School officials at Manatee Bay Elementary in Weston sent a letter to parents warning them about the unknown illness. In the document, Broward County Public School spokesperson Tracy Clark stated, "The District is working with the Florida Department of Health in Broward County to determine the cause of the illness. The school is also encouraging and reinforcing proper hand washing and is conducting a thorough cleaning of classrooms and facilities."
Clark also urged parents to keep their children home on Monday if they begin showing symptoms.
Concerned mother Natalie Castillo said she heard staggering figures for the number of children afflicted with the unknown illness. "I hear there's 300 kids out, sick," she said. "They're saying that's a lot of kids to be out sick."
School district officials declined to give an official figure as to the number of children who were experiencing symptoms, but indicated that at one point there were 15 students at Manatee Bay's nurse's offices waiting to go home.
"There were six people in the class [Friday]," said fifth grader Jared Foster, who added there are 22 students in his class. His 7-year-old sister Jodie had begun displaying symptoms.
Jared and Jodie's father said he got the call from the school nurse shortly after the school bell rang on Friday. "She was having nausea and vomiting, and severe bellyache, so she's home resting," said Steadley Foster.
Officials said that, judging from the symptoms, they believe the illness is stomach-related.
Parent Jennifer Santoro said she hopes the weekend will give school administrators an opportunity to disinfect the premises. "Today's Friday, so we're done, so hopefully a lot of Lysol spray, a lot of Clorox wipes, and we're good to go for Monday," she said.
Officials said parents should take their children to a doctor if symptoms persist. "If the child becomes lethargic, and he's not tolerating anything by mouth, at that point, the child needs to see a pediatrician," said Mayra Dominguez, a pediatrician at Broward Health Medical Center, who added the illness may turn out to be a stomach virus.
The health department continues their investigation to determine the cause of the illness.
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