Published: Saturday, March 24, 2007
Beloit classes resume after mysterious rash outbreak
Officials might never learn what caused the rash.
BELOIT Friday afternoon Beloit Elementary School officials marked the conclusion of their first normal school day since 35 pupils developed noncontagious dermatitis March 15.
Normal classes resumed, and only one pupil was sent home with symptoms of the rash that has plagued the elementary school, said Dr. Scott Weingart, superintendent of the West Branch Local School District.
The school had been closed since Monday when rash symptoms re-emerged in 11 previously affected students. The original outbreak occurred March 15.
The district is awaiting results of state Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Health tests conducted this week. Earlier tests by county health officials did not reveal the cause of the outbreak.
Ohio Health Department officials questioned students, parents and school staff throughout the week.
"Often when you have scenarios like this, you never do find a source," said Weingart. "The research so far has not led us to any explanation."
Two classrooms, where rash reports originated, remained locked Friday. They will remain off-limits until EPA test results are returned Tuesday, said Weingart.
West Branch plans to resume its normal schedule in all buildings next week, said Weingart.
"Health officials have reassured us [that it's safe]," said principal Sherri Kitzmiller. "It's business as normal, and that's what I was hoping for a couple of days ago."
The rash epidemic, however, has left all West Branch schools behind the state requirement for number of school days.
West Branch Middle School, which adjoins the elementary school, must make up two days. The elementary school students will have to extend their school year by four days, Weingart said. All other West Branch students' will have one makeup day.