Palisade High School Is Closed After 300 Students And Staff Got Sick From An Unknown Illness

<p>Summer peach orchard near Palisade, Colorado.</p>

UPDATE, Saturday, Nov. 16:

District officials are hoping to reopen Palisade High School Monday after the school was closed Thursday and Friday by an unknown ailment that prompted hundreds of students and staff to call in sick.

UPDATE, 4:15 p.m.: A school district spokesperson tells CPR News that norovirus is the suspected cause of illness.

The school is currently undergoing a deep clean due to what the Mesa County Health Dept. is calling “an infectious disease,” likely a virus, whose main symptom is vomiting, typically for 12 to 24 hours. 

Officials closed Palisade High School Thursday after 300 students and staff became sick from an unknown illness. That number was up from Wednesday, when about 130 students and staff were sick. About 1,000 students are enrolled at the Western Slope school outside of Grand Junction.

Neither the school nor the Mesa County Health Department knows what’s making people sick, but a school district spokesperson told CPR News that the most common symptom is vomiting and that norovirus is likely the culprit.

The school closed early Thursday morning and will remain closed on Friday. School officials said they hope to reopen Monday after crews do a deep clean of the campus.

Palisade parent Debora Beck says she feels lucky her son, Sequoyah, a junior, is well.

"I feel horrible for the parents who are dealing with the sick kids," she said. "I feel horrible for the janitors of Palisade High School for having to deal with so many sick kids in the school."

Mesa County Health Department Executive Director Jeff Kuhr said parents should monitor their children even if they are not sick at the moment. 

“Symptoms may occur,” Kuhr said. “You may have a child at home that may become symptomatic in the next day or two so just be aware of that.” 

The school advised that all students who have vomited more than twice in the last 24 hours or if the vomit is green or bloody should stay home. Also, students were told to stay home if they have a fever, diarrhea or a recent head injury. 

Officials say that they will update parents as they get more information on the source. 

CPR News reporter Stina Sieg contributed reporting from Grand Junction.