Diocese of Jefferson City Responds to Illness Outbreak

3 years 1 month 1 week ago January 15, 2014 Jan 15, 2014 Wednesday, January 15 2014 Wednesday, January 15, 2014 3:05:00 PM CST in News
By: Tori Chamberlain, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

JEFFERSON CITY - Classes will resume at St. Joseph Cathedral School Thursday, January 16. However, all school events scheduled for Wednesday evening, including sports practices, are cancelled after strange symptoms broke out among about a dozen students.

The school administration made the decision to re-open Thursday after consulting with the appropriate public entities and emergency personnel involved in the investigation of the circumstances surrounding the illness of several students this morning. Testing and physical evaluation of facilities on the parish and school campus has not produced evidence of any dangerous condition; however the school is awaiting the results of water tests which won't be available until Thursday.

Missouri American Water Company will provide bottled water for use Thursday. Bottled water will be used instead of tap water for drinking and food preparation.

Below is the full statement that Mr. Spencer Allen, Principal of St. Joseph Cathedral School, released to the school community via email this afternoon:

Parents,
Thank you for your cooperation and support today. I'm sure that some of you were very worried, and I appreciate your trust in us and the emergency personnel in charge of the situation. I want to provide follow-up on a number of things, but first I want to announce that we ARE having school tomorrow. The remaining test is regarding the water, and it will take 24-hours for those results. School events, such as practices are cancelled for TONIGHT.

We will not provide any access to city water for drinking tomorrow. Instead, we are working with American Water to bring in enough bottled water for all day for all of the kids. Lunch tomorrow will remain the same, but we will not use any city-water to prepare this food. As mentioned, we are currently waiting on results from the tests on water. In addition to that, every conceivable test has been run on our facilities and the parish, especially air quality, with no indication of contaminant. Families whose students have received medical evaluation are reporting that everything has checked out fine and that symptoms appear to have disappeared.

There are, as you can imagine, rumors running about. I tried my best, in interaction with the press, to clarify. One of the area hospitals received some incorrect information from a source that was not our school, which complicated the ability of institutions, ours and theirs, to provide information to the public in a calm and immediate manner. Thank you for understanding that we cannot control rumors or hearsay.

Our decision to have school tomorrow comes with the full endorsement of emergency personnel, the Department of Natural Resources, and all other relevant stakeholders in the evaluation of this situation. Rest assured that there are no environmental factors at work. Teachers will work with students who are probably anxious about tests or homework that was otherwise due tomorrow. If you need to e-mail with further questions, please do, but understand that I am flooded with communication that I need to follow up on and will be extremely slow (if at all) in replying to everyone.

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