Crews clean, sanitize Weston school after hundreds reported sick

District says more than 300 students experienced symptoms of gastroenteritis

WESTON, Fla. - Custodial crews cleaned up and sanitized the Manatee Bay Elementary School in Weston on Saturday after hundreds of students reported feeling sick.

Broward County Public Schools said Manatee Bay Elementary School had more than 300 students who reported experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis on Friday, which can include vomiting, diarrhea and fever.

At least 15 children were sent home early Friday with those symptoms.

Saturday morning, district staff thoroughly cleaned and sanitized the school, according to the school.

The school board sent out letters electronically to parents Friday, which stated that the Florida Department of Health in Broward is working to determine the cause of the illness.

"Please be assured that we are taking all possible preventative actions, including encouraging/reinforcing proper hand washing and conducting thorough cleanings of classrooms," read the letter to parents and guardians of students. "It is important that your child does not return to school until symptom free."

It's all good information, but it does little to calm parents fears.

"I am hoping they get to the bottom of it but, it is pretty concerning, especially because she has some drastic symptoms," said Steadley Foster whose daughter is sick. "If it persists, I am planning to take her to the hospital."

What a difference less than 24 hours made for 9-year-old Daniella Flores, who along with her 10-year-old brother, Mauricio, stayed home from Manatee Bay Elementary School on Friday, after waking up feeling sick to their stomachs.

"In the morning, I didn't feel so good. I couldn't sleep that well," said Daniella. "I started crying and I told my mom that I didn't sleep that well. My stomach and my head hurt."

"In the morning, I woke up at 5 because my stomach was hurting a lot," said Mauricio. "I had to go to the bathroom to vomit seven or eight times."

Their mother's tried and true TLC seemed to put her 4th and 5th graders on the fast track to recovery.

"I just gave them Gatorade because he was vomiting a lot, because I was worried he could get dehydrated," said mother Mercedes Flores.

The parents were still perplexed about the mysterious illness that didn't seem to affect their other two kids, who also go to Manatee Bay.

"We don't know how they got it," said father Maurico Flores. "It seems like there have been a couple of manifestations, one, he was vomiting, the other one was just pain."

The Flores' weren't alone, as Local 10 received reports of some 70 to 300 students out with the mystery bug.

A Broward County Public Schools spokeswoman disagreed with that high toll, but told Local 10's Baron James there was an unusually high number of absences at Manatee Bay, along with 15 kids who left school sick on Friday.

"The good thing is it seems like it went through pretty quickly in my kids, but the weird thing is everyone got sick in the same day," said Maurico.

"I was really worried about it and didn't know if I should take them to the doctor, or just stay at home with them," said Mercedes.

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