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posted: 11/13/2013 5:32 PM

Absences down at Wheaton school after big spike

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Absences were down dramatically Wednesday at Edison Middle School in Wheaton, after a significant spike in student and staff illnesses led officials to cancel all before- and after-school activities for the rest of the week.

District spokeswoman Erica Loiacono said 89 students were absent Wednesday out of a school population of close to 700. That was down from 465 absences on Monday and 180 on Tuesday.

Loiacono was not certain how many staff members were sick Wednesday, but said "a good number" were out earlier in the week.

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. Loiacono said the school is working with the DuPage County Health Department to determine if it can pinpoint a cause.

"I don't know if that will happen," Loiacano said.

An official from the Illinois Department of Public Health said specimens from the outbreak have been received, and officials hope to have live test results by Friday.

A representative from the county health department visited the school Tuesday to review cleaning, sanitizing, disinfecting and health care protocols. All buses that transport Edison students also were cleaned and sanitized on Tuesday, and the school added hand-sanitizing dispensers at the entrance to the cafeteria and the locker rooms.

The fall play has been moved to next week. Loiacano said the school anticipates extracurricular activities resuming at that time as well.

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