Diarrhea, vomiting close Columbia Valley Elementary

Health department asks Evergreen district to close school this afternoon

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Vomiting, diarrhea and other unpleasant symptoms spread though Columbia Valley Elementary Thursday, prompting the county health department to ask Evergreen Public Schools to close the building through the weekend.

Closing the school to all activities will allow janitors to deep clean the school’s surfaces. The closure of Columbia Valley affects approximately 500 students and staff. Families were notified about the closure via automated phone calls, a letter home with students and social media.

The outbreak began earlier this week. In all, about 40 staff and students — about 7 percent of the school’s population — either called in sick or left early on Wednesday, said Gail Spolar, Evergreen Public Schools spokeswoman.

The staff sent home a letter from the county’s health department reminding families to wash hands thoroughly and frequently. The health department was not able to pinpoint the cause of the illness.

Also, as a preventative measure against the spread of viral gastroenteritis, crews cleaned restrooms, doorknobs, tabletops and other surfaces in the school, 17500 S.E. Sequoia Circle.

But the virus continued to spread Thursday, prompting the health department to ask for school to be closed at the end of the school day.

The school will again be deep cleaned. Parents are asked to monitor their children’s health and if they are ill, ensure that they are symptom-free (no vomiting or diarrhea) for 48 hours before they return to class after the school has reopened.

Information about the virus, as well as other cleaning information, has been posted on both the school’s website and Evergreen Public Schools’ website.

“Evergreen Public Schools takes the health and safety of our students and staff very seriously, so while we are missing a class day (today), we need to ensure this illness does not continue to spread,” said district officials.

Gastroenteritis is one of the world’s most common viruses, striking schools, nursing homes, cruise ships and many other places where many people are gathered together.

For more information about the virus, contact Clark County Public Health at 360-397-8182.