AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A local high school will close on Wednesday after a teacher died with symptoms of bacterial meningitis.
The case is affecting the Eaglecrest High School community. In a letter on Tuesday, the Cherry Creek School District said it’s working to identify students and staff who may have been in close contact with the teacher.
“Those individuals will be offered preventative antibiotics,” the district said.
Maddie Schmidt, a teacher at the integrated learning center, died over the weekend, according to the district. The Arapahoe County Public Health Department alerted the district that the teacher “had symptoms consistent with bacterial meningitis.”
Arapahoe County told FOX31 on Tuesday that it’s only investigating one case.
The district is offering support for the school community after the teacher’s death.
“As the Eaglecrest community continues to grieve together this week, we will have school and district mental health support staff available,” according to the letter.
Athletics and other activities were canceled on Tuesday, with all classes and activities canceled for Wednesday. PSAT and SAT tests scheduled for Wednesday will get a new date.
What is bacterial meningitis?
Eaglecrest is working with the county health department in the response. Along with contact tracing, the school is distributing general information about bacterial meningitis and what symptoms to watch for.
Meningitis is when the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord swell from a bacterial or viral infection of the fluid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC stresses that bacterial meningitis is “serious” and can cause death or permanent disabilities. Symptoms can strike suddenly and worsen rapidly, with hospitalization — and in some cases, death — possible within hours.
According to information distributed by the school district, bacterial meningitis signs and symptoms include:
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Loss of appetite
- Being disoriented, irritable, or confused
- Eyes sensitive to light
The germs that cause it can spread from one person to another through direct contact with saliva or nose/throat discharges from an infected person, who could be asymptomatic, according to the CDC. Group settings are a risk factor.
Anyone with questions about bacterial meningitis can reach out to Arapahoe County Public Health at 303-795-HLTH (4584).