Colorado schools on the Western Slope are out early through the Thanksgiving holiday in an attempt to reduce the spread of what was eventually identified as Norovirus. The closure applies to the 46 schools in Mesa County Valley School District 51. According to a press release from District 51, the decision was made to close all schools after a recent rise in illnesses spreading through the schools. “We are taking this highly unusual action because this virus is extremely contagious and spreading quickly across our schools,” shares District 51 Nursing Coordinator Tanya Marvin. “In addition, it appears that there is now a second, related virus that is affecting students, some of whom have already been ill in recent weeks. The combination of the two has created an unprecedented spread of illness.” The district has never taken this measure before due to illness and they acknowledge that this is a rare step to take but one they consider necessary. Officials say the onset of symptoms for both types of the virus come on incredibly fast and includes vomiting. “While our custodial crews are working tirelessly to disinfect schools,” shares the press release, “the rapid spread of illness has led us to the conclusion that closing all schools to allow our custodial crews and environmental health and safety team to perform an intense cleaning of the school buildings is the best course of action.” Mesa County Valley School District 51 is the largest school district on the Western Slope of Colorado. The boundaries stretch from the Utah border to Palisade and from the Bookcliff Mountains to Whitewater. The District has nearly 3000 employees that service 22,000 students.