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Minnehaha Academy closes high school campus after dozens report illness

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A Minneapolis school is closed for the rest of the week because of widespread illness. 

Minnehaha Academy administrators contacted the state health department when 50-60 students and 7-8 adults reported suffering similar symptoms Wednesday morning. 

Minnehaha Academy's president Donna Harris said health officials told administrators the symptoms "were indicative" of norovirus, an illness that inflames the gastrointestinal system. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. The illness usually lasts one to three days.

It's spread through food contaminated by improperly-cleaned hands, or touching surfaces infected with norovirus and not disinfecting hands after that.

Harris said administrators made the decision to close very quickly because it involved the health of everyone at the school. 

  "It seems like with this decision, parents were very appreciative," Harris said, noting that closing school on snow days, for example, isn't always so well-accepted.

Administrators let parents know about plans to close with emails and texts. The upper campus kept to its regular schedule on Wednesday, before closing for Thursday and Friday.

Minnehaha's campuses serving grades pre-K through 8 remain open, but Harris said they are monitoring absences. 

While the upper campus is closed, an industrial cleaning crew will work to sanitize surfaces, Harris said.