On Thursday evening, the Opening Knight Players - Ellington High School's drama group - performed its Connecticut Drama Association play "Skinflints and Scoundrels." This may not sound odd, but it was remarkable because many in the group were ill.
It is believed that something in the food the parents served the students either Wednesday or Thursday made as many as 24 of them sick. Wednesday was a dress rehearsal and the day before a performance is intense and kids are usually there late, so parents bring in food for the kids.
Parents who attended the performance on Thursday said that the group was very brave to perform while sick and that they are very proud of the students.
One parent, who asked that her name not be used, said that on Friday, all the OKP kids were sent home from school - even ones who had not become ill - as a precaution. She said that the Health Department decided not to let the kids perform the CDA play in Old Saybrook on Friday and Saturday as planned, and is interviewing sick students and the parents who provided the food to try and determine what food caused the illness.
The parent said that the health department is not totally ruling out a virus, but is leaning more toward food poisoning.
Principal Neil Rinaldi sent this letter home to parents on Friday:
I write to inform you of a health issue occurring at Ellington High School. Approximately two dozen students have been effected by, what the State Department of Health has initially identified as a food to person illness. I use the word “initially” because other illnesses have not been ruled out. We believe that the students were exposed during an extracurricular event on Wednesday evening and not by food provided by the school cafeteria. As a result, we are taking precautionary measures in accordance with the recommendations set forth by the State Department of Health to minimize your sons/daughters exposure to students who have become ill. As an extra precautionary measure, if your son/daughter shows symptoms, such as diarrhea and/or vomiting, please immediately email Nancy Netherwood, Head Nurse for Ellington Public Schools at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, please remind your son/daughter to practice good personal hygiene techniques, such as proper hand washing, rinsing food thoroughly, disinfecting surfaces, cooking meat thoroughly, etc.
School officials could not be reached for comment.