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updated: 11/13/2013 9:10 AM

Hundreds of students sick at Wheaton middle school

Activities canceled

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After more than half the student body was absent on Monday, officials at Edison Middle School in Wheaton have canceled all before- and after-school activities for the rest of the week.

According to a note on the school's website, 465 students were absent Monday out of a school population of roughly 700, a large spike from 28 student absences last Friday. On Tuesday, 180 students were reported absent, according to the note.

District spokeswoman Erica Loiacono said "a good number" of staff members also were sick during the same period.

Many of the students were reportedly suffering from a gastrointestinal illness, but school officials said they could not say for sure how many of the absences could be traced to that cause.

"Over the weekend, Principal (Rachel) Bednar started getting emails and calls that students were getting sick," Loiacono said. "Parents had taken the children to their doctors, who were reporting the symptoms indicated a gastrointestinal illness."

Edison Middle School is part of Wheaton Warrenville Unit District 200.

Loiacono said the school has been in contact with the DuPage County Health Department and a representative from the department visited the school on Tuesday to review cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and health care protocols.

"They couldn't come Monday because they were closed for the federal holiday but the Department of Health did come out today and confirmed that our efforts are aligned with their recommendations for cleaning of public schools," Loiacono said.

All buses that transport Edison students also were cleaned and disinfected on Tuesday. The school added hand-sanitizing dispensers at the entrance to the cafeteria and the locker rooms and will continue high levels of cleaning procedures the rest of the week, the note said.

Because of the illnesses, "we have decided to cancel before- and after-school clubs and activities for the remainder of the week," officials wrote.

Basketball games and wrestling matches will be rescheduled and the fall play has been moved to next week.

Officials encouraged families to keep all students out of school until they no longer have any symptoms.

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