Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
There has been an apparent increase in the number of children falling ill with high fever, diarrhoea and vomiting at schools in sections of the island, sparking concerns among principals at some of the institutions.
However, when The Gleaner contacted the Ministry of Health yesterday, it was unaware of the illnesses or concerns.
Principal of Alpha Infant in Kingston, Nicolette McDonnough-Foster, said five cases have been detected at the school.
She said the school was on high alert and continues to take the necessary precautions to lessen the number of children affected.
Her concerns came after a five-year-old class-two student from the school died on Sunday following symptoms of fever and diarrhoea.
The principal, however, said she was unsure if the boy's death resulted from those symptoms. The Gleaner was unable to contact his parents.
SECOND TRAGEDY IN A WEEK
It was the second time in less than a week that the Corporate Area school community has been affected by the death of a student. A child at Half-Way Tree Primary died last week from what the education ministry said was a suspected heart attack.
During a visit to Alpha Infant yesterday, The Gleaner observed a student vomiting and watched as the girl had to be rushed from the compound for medical attention. The principal has since told The Gleaner that the child had an ear infection and gastroenteritis.
"We have to educate the parents to ensure that they don't take anything for granted. They need to teach their children at home proper hygiene, to wash their hands," McDonnough-Foster said.
"I am waiting on the parent-teacher association (meeting) to address the parents that they have to be vigilant. They have to make sure their children see the doctor."
At Allman Town Primary School, principal Kandi-Lee Crooks-Smith said the school was seeing at least two to three cases of students being ill per day.
"Since school opened, we have been having numerous cases of children with the symptoms. Once we realise that they are ill, we contact the parents and advise them to get the children medical care. We also alert them because it is obvious that there is a virus going around and then we have to be sanitising our classrooms," she explained.
Crooks-Smith said the cases were more frequent among students in grades one to three.
"There are some parents to whom we have to give specific letters to say that they have to bring proof that they sought medical care for the children because of the condition that the children were in," she lamented.
She said while she has not reported the cases to the Ministry of Health, she continues to follow the basic health guidelines that the entity provided to the school.
SEVERAL SICK YESTERDAY
It was similar at St Aloysius and Black River primary schools where a few students have been detected with the symptoms.
Vice-principal of Black River Primary, Sharon Whyte, said four students signed out of the school yesterday as a result of vomiting and diarrhoea.
Principal of St Aloysius Primary Althea Palmer said: "Some of the cases are happening from home and they send them to school just the same. But I have been asking my parents when they see the children like that they should not wait. They should take them to the doctor because we don't know what is happening."
In an emailed response to The Gleaner, Stephanie Shaw Smith, public relations and communications manager in the Ministry of Health, said the ministry has not received any reports but was investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites yesterday visited Alpha Infant to support the school community which was rocked by the death of the student.