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Johnson Creek Elementary School closes Friday over mysterious illness

Posted at 9:57 PM, Dec 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-05 23:30:28-05

JOHNSON CREEK — A mysterious illness prompts the district to shut down Johnson Creek Elementary School on Friday. Now the Jefferson County Health Department is working with the Wisconsin Division of Public Health to investigate the sickness.

The school district superintendent Michael Garvey said the number of absences has been growing all week at Johnson Creek Elementary. Thursday, nearly a third of students either called in or went home sick because of what the Jefferson County Health Department is calling a gastrointestinal illness.

“I heard about it tonight at the basketball game and I’m like, ‘Which school is closed? Who’s sick? Now I feel sick just thinking about it,” said Melissa Herman, a mother of two children at Johnson Creek Schools.

Garvey said he has been told it is some sort of Norovirus. However, the health department has not named what the cause of the illness is and instead said it is launching an investigation with state epidemiologists to investigating further.

“What the health department has asked us to do is provide them the information on when students became ill and what the symptoms have been. All the symptoms we saw today, it was vomiting,” said Garvey.

He canceled school Friday the number of student out sick grew to 70. That is a third of school population. His concern now is the illness spreading.

“There are many families that have students in both building. All the students ride the same buses. There is not a high school bus and a elementary bus,” said Garvey.

It has parents worried as well.

”I’m sure the teachers are going to be saying, ‘Hey sanitizer, sanitizer,’” said Teresa Mertz, mother of two kids at Johnson Creek Schools.

“Washing hands all the time, just trying to stay away from anyone who feels sick,” said Herman.

The district has hired a special crew to do a deep cleaning Friday.

The health department will also be checking recording to see if they can find where the illness originated from.