School closes after massive illness hits students, staff

ROSEBURG, Ore. -- An official with the Roseburg School District says students are being sent home due an unusually large number of sick kids.

There will be no school on Friday for Fir Grove Elementary, and kids were being bussed home before noon on Thursday.

Dr. Larry Parsons, the Roseburg Schools Superintendent, says the illness doesn't appear to be food related. "We discovered that the kids who were getting sick, there was no common denominator," he said. "For example, not just the kids who ate a certain sandwich got sick. Some kids who ate a certain kind of meal got sick, some who ate that same meal didn't get sick, and vice versa. And the same with staff."

Staff will be working today and Friday to disinfect the rooms.

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Parsons says this is the first time something like this has occurred in the Roseburg schools.

Caroline Regan with Douglas County Environmental Health, says it may be some time before they can determine exactly what type of illness it is.

She said that a parent notified the health department, and they inspected the school Thursday morning.

Regan says the results will be forwarded on to the state.

Of the 316 students at the school, about 150 either stayed home or got sick while at school. One student we spoke with says his second grade class normally has 21 kids. Thursday, only 11 showed.

"We had several staff members out and several more who were not feeling well and needed to go home, so I would estimate that at least half the staff was also sick," Parsons said.

Dr. Parsons said he decided at about 10:30 to close the school, and second grader Baylon Sherman says he thought that was a good idea. "All of the kids that were gone got sent home, so they wouldn't puke on the floor," said Sherman. "We had some people, we had one person puke in the breezeway."

One thing Dr. Parsons says he is extremely worried about is the illness spreading to other schools, possibly through the older brothers and sisters of the kids who go to Fir Grove Elementary School.

Doctor Parsons is asking parents to keep a close eye on their children, and if they show any signs of illness, to just keep them home.