Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, IA, was dismissed early on Thursday due to dozens of illnesses possibly linked to catered food served at a staff lunch. The food was apparently not served to students.
School was also not in session on Friday, but that was due to a professional development day.
According to Amanda Lewis, communications officer for the Des Moines school district, 58 teachers, or about half of the high school staff, had been sickened. She added that the food was purchased from outside businesses and brought into the school.
Polk County Health Department officials visited the high school on Thursday to investigate the situation. However, no specific details about their investigation were available on Friday.
Department spokeswoman Nola Aigner told the Des Moines Register that it’s possible that someone with Norovirus had attended the luncheon and then spread the virus by touching food-serving implements.
“We’re looking into every single possibility,” she said.
A local TV station reported that Roosevelt Principal Kevin Biggs emailed the following note to parents, “A large number of our staff who attended a catered luncheon yesterday have become ill with what the Polk County Health Department believes to be food poisoning. We do not have enough staff to continue classes today as we normally would. Therefore, we are dismissing school for the day. We are also postponing parent-teacher conferences.”
Biggs, who was one of those sickened, added that indoor after-school activities were being canceled, but outdoor ones would continue as planned.
School officials said they planned to release more information about the cause of the illnesses when it becomes available.
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