Evergreen school closed by virus reopens

Columbia Valley Elementary was closed Friday for cleaning

By Susan Parrish, Columbian Education Reporter

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Columbia Valley Elementary School reopened Monday morning after widespread vomiting, diarrhea and other flulike symptoms closed the school for part of last week.

Absenteeism was still greater than normal, but less than last week.

On Monday, 37 of approximately 500 students were absent. Of those, 33 were virus-related absences; 15 students were out with active viral gastroenteritis and 18 students were on the mend, said Gail Spolar, Evergreen Public Schools spokeswoman.

“Those 18 students are on the downhill side of the illness,” she said.

On any given day, about 20 students are absent.

Last Wednesday, 40 staff and students — about 7 percent of the school’s population — either called in sick or left early.

The culprit is believed to be gastroenteritis, one of the world’s most common viruses, striking schools, nursing homes, cruise ships and other places where many people are gathered together. The health department was not able to pinpoint the source of the outbreak.

After an initial cleaning failed to stop the spread of the virus, the Clark County Health Department asked Evergreen Public Schools to voluntarily close Columbia Valley, 17500 S.E. Sequoia Circle. The building was closed to all activities at the end of the school day on Thursday, all day Friday and through the weekend.

During the closure, the school received an additional deep cleaning of surfaces where the virus can linger, such as doorknobs.

The staff sent home a letter from the county’s health department reminding families to wash hands thoroughly and frequently.

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.