School sickness outbreak investigation continues

Students back to school, kitchen facilities closed

The majority of the approximately 100 students and teachers taken ill at Red Bay Primary School last week had returned to class by Friday. 

Health inspectors were this week continuing to investigate the cause of the outbreak of sickness, which occurred during the school’s lunch period on Wednesday. Students and several teachers suffered cramps and vomiting. 

A spokesman for the Cayman Islands Hospital confirmed that several youngsters had been taken to the hospital. But he said the symptoms, in all cases, were mild and the children were treated and sent home. 

Mary Miller Hall, where food for students at three primary schools including Red Bay is prepared, remains closed as tests continue. The hall, kitchen facilities and classrooms at the school were professionally cleaned after the incident. 

Fast food franchise Subway was called in to provide lunches to children, and education officials say breakfast, lunch and snacks will continue to be provided from outside sources for the time being. 

Mark Ray, head of business services for the Department of Education, said the cause of the outbreak remained unclear. “We are not speculating on that. We will wait until we have the results of the tests,” he said. 

In a press release last week, education officials said the same food served to children at Red Bay Primary was also served to Lighthouse School and George Town Primary School students, but there were no reports of illness at those schools. 

Department of Environ­mental Health investigators also discovered a gas leak from an ice machine in the serving area at Mary Miller Hall, and they were working to determine what health impact, if any, this may have had on teachers and students.