BROOKSVILLE - Attendance rates have gone back to normal at Moton Elementary since the number of teachers and students out sick doubled last week, according to Principal Mark Griffith.
"I really do think there was just something going around," Griffith said. "By Wednesday we had three teachers absent, and since that first Monday after Mother's Day when we had a very high spike in our absenteeism, that settled back down to the 20s, which is similar throughout the year on any given day."
The school has taken extra precautions, Griffith said, such as added cleaning with custodial staff, and additional hand washing, and on Tuesday no teachers were out sick.
"It seems to be running its course," said Health Department Spokesperson Ann-Gayl Ellis.
The county health department received the information through a school nurse regarding an unusually large number of staff - 11 teachers and several students - who were out sick due to a reported gastrointestinal illness, prompting an investigation, according to Ellis.
Ellis said the illness is not life-threatening, and as of Tuesday has not resulted in any hospitalizations.
Concerned parents contacted Hernando Today detailing reports of children vomiting on the playground.
"I talked to the epidemiology nurse, and we haven't had any additional calls since the other day when we were receiving calls from parents," Ellis said.
"We haven't had any more complaints."
The cause of the illness has not yet been identified, Ellis said, since voluntary samples that were sent to a lab are still being tested, and require a few days before results can be determined.
"We're still waiting for that," she said. "Until we get something back we just don't know what it was."
School Superintendent Bryan Blavatt said historically work weeks following Mother's Day often have higher rates of employees who call in sick.
Ellis said the health department is not investigating any illness reported at other institutions or schools in the county that resemble the symptoms reported at Moton.
"I haven't heard anyone say they're comparing it to anything else like that," Ellis said.
"I probably would have heard if this was going on somewhere else in another school, so this was very isolated."
Epidemiology staff has been investigating the illness over the past week using voluntary verbal surveys, and specimen collection from those who were ill, according to Ellis.
"We had teachers with older kids, and kids in daycare that also had to go home, and the kids were showing similar symptoms," Griffith said.