When an exclusive private school suddenly extends its Easter break, it might be a good time to check with social media to see if, in fact, an outbreak of foodborne illness has occurred. That appears to be what has happened with Louisiana’s Silliman Institute, where the original schedule for the term shows Easter break not beginning until today. However, Silliman sent students home last Friday, March 27, resumed classes Monday, March 30, and then called it quits until Monday, April 6. What gives? Silliman isn’t talking and the answer is hard to find because Louisiana’s Napoleonic Code is not about sunshine in government. stilliman_406x250“There is an outbreak of STEC (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli) in a school in Region 2 and it is being investigated,” Ashley Lewis, spokeswoman for Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals, told Food Safety News. “As the investigation progresses, the Department continues to take all necessary preventive measures to protect public health,” Lewis noted, adding, “Louisiana law prohibits the disclosure of the content of epidemiological investigations except to the institutions concerned. The Department would also clarify that any decisions related to facility closure have been made by the facilities themselves.” The answer about an apparent outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 appears to come from a Facebook group known to its members as HUS moms. They were first to report on a Clinton, LA, school closure last Friday. The school opened and closed again on Monday. The first child sickened in the Louisiana outbreak, a girl, was reportedly hospitalized with the kidney disease known as hemolytic-uremic syndrome, or HUS. The second child, also hospitalized but without HUS, was not being held in a pediatric intensive care unit and was likely going to avoid kidney dialysis. None of this was being shared, however, with the parents and students of Silliman Institute. The administration was getting the word out about the newly extended Easter break with a red-letter announcement on the school’s website, but not explaining why. The announcement states: “Silliman is closed Tuesday, March 31st and Wednesday, April 1st to extend the Easter break that is scheduled for Thursday, April 2nd through Monday, April 6th. We will resume regular schedule Tuesday, April 7th unless otherwise notified.” Silliman is a non-sectarian private school with a history that dates back 150 years. With about 500 students, it offers classes from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.