Authorities take a student out of the school on a stretcher and place him in an ambulance Thursday.
Photo: Channel 2 Action News
Photo: Channel 2 Action News

Candy sends 28 middle school students to hospitals; GBI handling testing

More than two dozen students were sent to hospitals on Valentine’s Day after ingesting snacks and candy at a south Fulton County middle school Thursday.

The Sandtown Middle School students were taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta campuses at Hughes Spalding and Egleston and Grady Memorial Hospital after being evaluated by paramedics, Fulton County Schools spokeswoman Susan Romanick told

The district initially reported 21 students had been taken to hospitals, but the number grew to 28 by late Thursday afternoon.  

Several students complained about feeling “nauseated and disoriented,” Cliff Jones, the district’s chief academic officer, said in a statement. 

“When students began reporting their symptoms, we partnered with local municipalities to immediately get them medical attention as quickly as possible. For the safety of all, students and staff were instructed not to eat anything given to them by another person and not to eat anything they didn’t bring from their own home,” he said. 

The district’s police department is investigating the incident “but does not yet have a determination of what led to the students feeling ill,” he said.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta spokeswoman Jessica Pope said earlier that “patients are now currently under observation by physicians.”


Epidemiologists, led by the Fulton County Board of Health, are looking into the incident. Food samples are being tested by the GBI. 

Spokeswoman Alicia Cardwell Alston said the health board is trying to determine the cause of the sickness. She said officials should know more by Friday morning.

“We don’t have enough to be conclusive really,” she said Thursday afternoon.

Fulton school board president Linda Bryant, who represents the area that includes Sandtown Middle School, said that the district’s area superintendent and other staff are at the two hospitals monitoring how children are doing. 

In other news:

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.