Still unknown if Gladstone will reopen Monday following illness outbreak

Photo: Caroline Goggin | WPRI 12

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — School officials say they will decide Sunday if Gladstone Street Elementary School will reopen to students and staff Monday.

As Eyewitness News reported first, classes were canceled Friday after nearly half of the school’s 515 students became ill with gastrointestinal issues Thursday.

Cranston Public Schools Chief operating officer Raymond Votto said 161 students were absent Thursday and another 50 got sick during the day from what health officials described as a norovirus-like illness.

Even though the Health Department did not force the school’s closure Friday, school officials said they thought it would be prudent so crews could clean and disinfect the entire building.

“To clean all the surfaces, the tables, the floors, the desks, the gym. Anything that the kids would have access to,” Votto said.

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Some parents and students showed up Friday, unaware that school was canceled.

Votto said the superintendent will decide by Sunday afternoon whether the school can reopen Monday. Parents should be on the lookout for calls from the school. They can also check the Pinpoint Closing Network.

“To notify the students and the parents and the staff that school will be open, we’ll do that obviously through the media, as well as our own system which is through email or robocalls,” Votto said.

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 Thursday and all other schools in the district, so officials hope the spread is isolated.

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