A fifth of Zephyr Cove Elementary School’s entire student body either stayed home sick or went home sick Wednesday, resulting in 37 absences due to illness.
The cause of the illness was not immediately clear to school officials Thursday, but the proportion of sick students was enough for administrators to request a “deep cleaning” of school facilities, classrooms and buses — basically “everything a child might touch,” Principal Nancy Cauley said.
“Well, we aren’t exactly sure what it is,” Cauley added, “but it’s true that there was an unusually large number of students absent yesterday.”
A high number of absences also occurred Thursday, when 31 students were out ill. Some of that number consisted of children who went home sick. But Cauley believes most were absent because of a board policy that prohibits students from returning to school for 24 hours after they’ve vomited from an illness.
Cauley randomly called about 10 students to talk to their parents and inquire about their child’s symptoms. She wasn’t able to identify the illness, she said, but found out there was no correlation to food. Of the 10 students Cauley had selected, most had brought lunches from home.
“It could be bacterial. It could be viral. But we know it was not linked in any way to food,” she said.
Cauley sent a message to parents Wednesday that the school had a larger-than-normal proportion of children either sick or taken home ill, and that it was up to parents’ discretion whether they want to take their child to see a physician.
The principal has also been in contact with the school district’s chief health nurse, superintendent and assistant superintendent about the issue.