Dozens of kids suddenly got sick at NC school. Hazmat crews are trying to learn why

Petree Elementary School in North Carolina was evacuated Wednesday after students got sick.
Petree Elementary School in North Carolina was evacuated Wednesday after students got sick. Screengrab from the WXII Facebook page

UPDATE: Forsyth County health officials determined multiple factors caused the students at the North Carolina elementary school to get sick, WGHP reported.

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A North Carolina school was evacuated after 24 fifth-grade students suddenly became sick, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools spokesman told several media outlets.

Emergency crews on Wednesday responded to a report of several sick children at Petree Elementary School in Winston-Salem, according to WGHP. Two dozen students and one adult had a “sudden stomach illness,” with symptoms that included nausea and vomiting, WXII reports.

“Because of the number of students impacted and the timing of the event, an emergency evacuation was called,” according to WXII.

The scale of the illness also prompted Forsyth County EMS and public health officials to go to the school, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Hazmat teams collected “liquid and food samples” for testing, according to WXII.

School district spokesman Brent Campbell said the cause of the illness was unknown as of Wednesday afternoon, the Winston-Salem Journal reports.

“We believe this is an isolated incident, and have no indication that it is going to spread or that it is a communicable disease,” said Sarah Isom, director of emergency response and communications at Forsyth County Department of Public Health, per WFMY.

Sick students were treated in an on-site ambulance, and others were brought to a nearby high school, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. When the evacuation was ordered, Stacie Privott, a parent, said children left the school without their backpacks, per WXII.

“So, they had nothing but their clothes on their back and they just had to go,” Privott said, according to WXII.

The school was deemed safe to reopen the next day, WFMY reports. Campbell said the school district “worked on cleaning the entire building” before Thursday’s classes, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.