R.I. School Officials Cancel Classes After Children Fall Ill

COVENTRY, R.I. – Rhode Island school officials announced on Jan. 4 the cancellation of school for more than 20,000 public school students and 2,600 private school students after concerns that a suspected case of meningitis may be connected to the encephalitis death of a second-grader two weeks ago.

As a precaution, the schools were closed yesterday and will remain that way today.

Meningitis, an inflammation of membranes that protect the brain and spinal cord, was reported Jan. 3 in a student at Hopkins Hill School in the town of Coventry.

Encephalitis also involves brain inflammation caused by a virus and was believed to have caused the death of a Warwick student in December and two other children’s illnesses.

Gifford says that several Warwick students have recently developed infections of mycoplasma pneumonia, which can, though rarely, progress to encephalitis or meningitis.

Epidemiologists from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be visiting the state to advise and assist scientists already working there.

School and health officials will be discussing over the weekend when the public schools will reopen.

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