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DALLAS -- The parking lot is mostly empty.

The only children at the The da Vinci School in Dallas Thursday are depicted in bronze statues. A sign on the door says the preschool is closed Thursday and Friday for cleaning.

'We got calls from 24 parents that their children were throwing up overnight and three teachers were sick,' said school director Mary Ann Green. 'And it was scattered throughout the school.'

Greene said with about a quarter of the school out sick, they decided to close down for four days to let the fast-moving stomach bug die. Dallas County health officials encouraged disinfecting as a precaution.

'We don't want to take those chances and have more illness,' said kindergarten teacher Hilary Nelson. 'This is the first time I've seen anything like this.'

Nelson wore a mask and gloves, just in case, as every surface of her kindergarten classroom was sprayed down and wiped clean.

Health experts say anyone sick should stay home for at least 24 hours after symptoms stop.

Officials at the state level are seeing early reports of other seasonal illnesses, including influenza. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported the first two positive flu cases last week, including the death of 17-year-old in South Texas with underlying medical conditions.

Mary Ann Greene said hers isn't the only school affected by this contagious stomach virus.

'It's just out there in the community,' Greene said. 'Pediatricians are reporting it. Someone had been to an emergency room and said everyone there was vomiting. It's out there and we just wanted to see if we could stop it from going any further.'

School officials hope that come Monday, when students and teachers return, the school will not only be a clean environment, but a virus-free one, too.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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