Gastrointestinal illness suspected source of uptick in Franklin Elementary student absences

REISTERSTOWN, Md. - Student absences were on the rise at Franklin Elementary School in Reisterstown this week, and school officials believe a circulating gastrointestinal illness is to blame.

The school’s principal, Joyce Albert, sent a letter home to parents Thursday outlining the higher than normal number of absences and common symptoms the students have experienced.

In the letter, parents were encouraged to keep their kids home for 48 hours if the child developed symptoms of the gastrointestinal illness, which include vomiting, nausea and diarrhea.

In response to the illness and increase in absences, the teachers reminded students to wash hands thoroughly and regularly throughout the day, cleaned surfaces inside the school and sent home any student who complained of symptoms even if they didn’t have a fever, the letter states.

The school is working with the Baltimore County Department of Health to investigate the illness.

Debbie Sommerville, Baltimore County’s head of health services, said an estimated 50 students contracted the illness throughout multiple kindergarten classrooms. 

Sommerville said Albert noticed a higher than average absent rate among the kindergartens in the school.

In addition, extra staff came in to the school to assist the custodians with a thorough cleaning of the classrooms affected.



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