Illness outbreak forces Cranston’s Gladstone School to close Friday

Photo: Caroline Goggin | WPRI 12
Photo: Caroline Goggin | WPRI 12

CRANSTON, R .I. (WPRI) — Class is canceled for students and staff at Gladstone Street Elementary School Friday after a large number of students became ill with gastrointestinal issues Thursday.

Eyewitness News first received a tip about the issue Thursday morning and checked with the Rhode Island Department of Health – which confirmed the agency was working with the school to manage a large number of cases of norovirus-like illness.

By Thursday afternoon, the school’s principal sent a letter to parents informing them of the illnesses and an alert came through on the Pinpoint Closing Network that the school was closed Friday.

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“When the administrators looked at their attendance in the building, they noticed an inordinate amount of absenteeism,” said Raymond Voto, Chief Operating Officer for the school district.

Of the 515 students that go to Gladstone, almost 40% didn’t make it to class Thursday.

Health officials said norovirus is a very contagious virus. People get it from an infected person, from contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The most common symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting. Most people are better in between one and three days.

Attendance was normal for the staff at Gladstone and all other schools in the district, so officials hope the spread is isolated.

In the letter to parents, Principal Susan Buonanno said custodial staff has been doing extra cleaning of restrooms, desks, doorknobs and other frequently touched surfaces to keep the virus from spreading.

The Department of Health is suggesting three thorough cleanings be done over the next couple of days.