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Olathe elementary school closed until Monday due to ‘exceedingly high’ number of absences

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Posted at 12:26 PM, Oct 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-26 19:04:07-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — School district officials have closed an elementary school in Olathe for the rest of the week due to an “exceedingly high” number of absences.

In a letter to parents, Principal Nate Kremer said more than 150 students and staff members are out sick. The school has a total of 541 students and 26 K-5 teachers.

Officials at the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment believe the illnesses are due to some kind of virus and the district said it has ruled out environmental factors.

"JCDHE is working with the Olathe School District on reports of GI symptoms," a spokesperson for the county health department said. "The plan is to further investigate to see what the cause is."

GI refers to gastrointestinal and includes the stomach and digestive system.

"The district has always followed the Johnson County’s Department of Health absentee rates prior to, during and after 'COVID days' for school closure," an Olathe Public Schools spokesperson said.

The district added, "As is typical practice, the health department monitors school illness data every year, and recommends building closures when absentee rates exceed 10 percent.”

More than 25% of all Clearwater Creek students and staff at the building were absent Wednesday due to illness. There are 541 students and 26 teachers at the school.

The district said the school had not experienced a high rate of absenteeism prior to Wednesday and confirmed that "no other buildings are experiencing high levels of absenteeism," so the suspected outbreak appears to be isolated to Clearwater Creek.

Kremer said Olathe Public Schools officials are working to disinfect the entire building and increase HVAC air flow. The school is set to reopen on Monday, Oct. 31.

“This closure is a safety measure that protects students, staff and the community while the building undergoes extensive cleaning,” Kremer wrote.

Any parents who have concerns about the health of their student should contact JCDHE.

Kremer said parents should come pick up their children as soon as possible.

This is a developing story and will be updated.