Local school reports more than 100 sick

Walnut Grove is second school to be hit with symptoms

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Nearly 18 percent of the student body at Walnut Grove Elementary School in Vancouver stayed home or were sent home Friday with nausea, vomiting and other symptoms of gastroenteritis. It was the second such outbreak of illness at a Clark County school this month.

Officials at Walnut Grove, 6103 N.E. 72nd Ave., said 133 students were out sick Friday. The school’s enrollment is almost 750 students.

The school wasn’t closed, but Friday’s school carnival was canceled, said Pat Mattison, spokeswoman for Vancouver Public Schools.

Walnut Grove will be deep cleaned before classes resume Monday, Mattison said.

The school reported the large absentee rate to Clark County Public Health at about 10:40 a.m. Friday. Schools must report to the health department when 10 percent or more of the student body is absent.

Based on the symptoms many of the students were presenting, health officials determined gastroenteritis was the likely culprit, said Theresa Cross, a health educator at the health department.

The agency sent the school a letter explaining cleaning procedures and urged the school to cancel its evening carnival, Cross said. Health officials also drafted a letter to be sent home with all students that explains ways to prevent the spread of illness.

It was the second such outbreak this month in area schools. Two weeks ago, Ever­green Public Schools took the unusual step of closing Columbia Valley Elementary School for a day to stop the spread of gastroenteritis.

Gastroenteritis is one of the world’s most common viruses. It is found in schools, nursing homes, on cruise ships and at other places where many people are gathered.

Parents are asked to monitor their children’s health; if they become ill, parents are asked to ensure that their children are symptom-free (no vomiting or diarrhea) for 48 hours before returning to school.

For more on the virus, call Clark County Public Health, 360-397-8182.