GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (CBS4)– All students in the Mesa County Valley School District 51 will not have school until after Thanksgiving break due to widespread illness. Grand Mesa Middle School and Mt. Garfield Middle School will remain shut down until Dec. 3.

Mt. Garfield Middle School

(credit: KREX)

Mt. Garfield Middle School was closed earlier this week due to many ill and absent students. The school reopened Wednesday but then closed again because of widespread illness.

Mesa County Public Health believes norovirus is to blame for the sick students and staff. The primary symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea.

“We are taking this highly unusual action because this virus is extremely contagious and spreading quickly across our schools. In addition, it appears that there is now a second, related virus that is affecting students, some of whom have already been ill in recent weeks. The combination of the two has created an unprecedented spread of illness,” district officials said Wednesday afternoon.

(credit: Mount Garfield Middle School)

School district officials say the Central Administration, BTK, Hawthorne and Emerson buildings will be open as scheduled Nov. 21-22 and Nov. 25-27.

Health officials want to remind parents and caregivers to wash hands, not share personal care items and to remain home from school and other public places for at least 24 hours after symptoms stop.

Palisade High School closed early Thursday after hundreds of students and staff reported feeling ill.

Palisade High School closed early Thursday after hundreds of students and staff reported feeling ill. (credit: CBS)

Palisade High School was closed for a time last week due to what was thought to be norovirus.

LINK: CDPHE Norovirus Information

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