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Widespread illness shuts down Denver elementary school

Ashley Elementary school in Denver closed down early Friday due to widespread illness among students and staff.

DENVER — A Denver elementary school sent out a notice to parents Friday morning that it would close immediately due to an outbreak of a "flu-like" illnesses among students and staff.

The decision to close Ashley Elementary was made for the health and safety of students and staff, the notice says. The school is located at 1914 Syracuse Street in Denver.

Denver Public Schools facilities staff will be cleaning the school Friday evening and over the weekend, the notice says, so that classes can be held on Monday.

"I’d rather them take these measures than to continue letting them spread the germs and teachers and everybody gets sick so yeah, I’d rather have them shut it down," Nicole Farrow, a parent of one of the students, said. 

On Tuesday, the school said in a Facebook post that a bug stomach bug was going around. That post said that 25 percent of students were absent as well as many staff members. 

In a post Thursday evening, the school urged parents to keep their children home unless they've been fever free for at least 24 hours.

"Each day, it’s increased to the point where today we had roughly 40 percent plus out and generally about 50 percent of our staff out," Zach Rahn, the principal of the school said.

Around 9:30 a.m.  Friday, parents were asked to come to the school to pick up their child if possible. If parents could not do that, the school said they would be able to keep students at the school for the duration of the regular school day.

The school said students that normally walk home will be allowed to do so, but only after permission is received from their parent or guardian.

"I found out during the time we were supposed to switch classrooms around 10," Safiiyah Gresham, a 5th-grade student said. "They came on the intercom and they started talking about how we have to quarantine the school because they found out that 80 kids were sick."

According to the notice sent home to parent, the school was deep cleaned and sanitized on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night because of advice from Denver Public Health and Environment.

The notice says school administration chose to close the school Friday so everyone who is sick has time to recover while cleaning continues.

"Make sure your students are washing their hands a lot, if you’re noticing a lot of stomach issues, diarrhea, vomiting, get them to their health care providers," Kathrine Hale, the Manager of Nursing and Student Health Services for DPS advised. "If we have students who have a fever of 101 and higher that is a true fever, definitely keep your student home from school."

Several schools in the Greeley area were also closed Friday due to illness. They included Madison Elementary School, Scott Elementary School, Franklin Middle School, Jefferson Junior High School, and the Transitions Program housed at the former Cameron Elementary School.

RELATED: 5 schools in Greeley closed for Norovirus outbreak

A spokesperson for the Greeley-Evans Weld County School District 6 said the closures were related to the norovirus, which is a gastrointestinal virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, and occasionally fever.

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