Plainwell school illness subsides

By: 
Daniel Pepper, Interim Editor

Plainwell school officials say things were back to normal at the end of the week after an outbreak of illness closed the high school for a day. 

School officials chose to close Wednesday, May 14, to give staff time to take precautions against an outbreak of flu-like symptoms at the high school. 
 
Superintendent Susan Wake­­field said Friday, May 16, it seemed to be over. 
 
“Attendance rates are back to normal,” Wakefield said. “We don’t have what we saw Monday and Tuesday.”
 
The high school approach­ed 20 percent of students absent on Monday and Tuesday, with many students going home after coming down with vomiting and diarrhea.
 
Wakefield said an average day’s absence is between 8 and 10 percent. 
 
She said they’d decided to close Wednesday after numbers kept going up. 
 
“We were taking hourly attendance on Tuesday,” Wakefield said. “We were talking about what percentage do we close at?
 
“There’s no law or magic number to follow.”
 
The best thing to do seemed to be to send students home for a day, based on the hypothesis of a viral cause. Wakefield said the health department was not yet sure of the cause, but viral seemed likely.
 
“We had a conference call midday Tuesday, they didn’t believe it was food-related,” she said. “They were looking at viral, but they haven’t identified that to my knowledge.”
 
Health department officials didn’t return calls seeking comment by press time. 
 
The school was given a thorough cleaning and, at the health department’s advice, staff ran the ventilation system all night. 

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