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28 students hospitalized after eating candy, falling ill on Valentine's Day

The cause of the odd illness hasn't been confirmed, but a student said they were told by police not to eat anything they didn't bring themselves.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga. — More than two dozen students at a Fulton County school were taken to local hospitals after eating snacks and candy on Valentine's Day.

Fulton County fire said they were called to Sandtown Middle School to assist the school with the incident. The school system initially said 21 students complained of feeling ill but later updated the number to 28.

"When students began reporting their symptoms, we partnered with local municipalities to immediately get them medical attention as quickly as possible," Chief Academic Officer Cliff Jones said in a statement.

City of South Fulton Police said they helped escort the children who were having shortness of breath and showing signs of an allergic reaction.

►RELATED: 28 Sandtown Middle School students hospitalized: What we know

Some of the students were taken to Hughes Spalding hospital and the others to Children's Hospital at Egleston where they were being evaluated by paramedics. Additional students also went to Grady Memorial Hospital.

One student said that several of her peers had brought candy for Valentine's Day and that it was shared during locker break.

"Everyone started bringing candy in the shape of hearts," Genesis Cruz said. "So, people started, like, passing them out and like people were eating them."

She said some of the candy may have been tainted with drugs - something school officials have yet to confirm as the investigation continues.

"So, people were, like, screaming down the hallways and stuff," she said. 

Cruz said police then came in the classroom and told students not to eat any candy.

"They were like Rice Crispies and stuff," she said. "Like lollipops."

She added that the Rice Crispies she saw were homemade but the lollipops appeared to be store-bought.

"Like, heart-shaped, pink lollipops," she said.

Cruz added that the school was never evacuated.

"It was kind of scary because, like, this has never happened before and I was wondering, like, if anything would happen to me because I don't know if I have ate any of these candies that they had."

She said that during the ordeal, she heard over the intercom system that they were to consider the situation a soft lockdown.

The school system said they were working with local authorities and in contact with parents about the incident.

In a statement, the school system also corrected erroneous information reported by WSB-TV.

"The school has not been evacuated or is on lockdown, despite incorrect media reports," the statement read.

At 2:08 p.m., the TV station tweeted:


- Sandtown Middle School in South Fulton evacuated

- School officials call it "an active scene at this time"

- NewsChopper 2 + @TyishaWSB + @DaveHWSB headed to scene"

They sent several tweets with the same information, sent a mobile push alert and went on live television with the information that the school district said was incorrect.

In lieu of the blanket statement of "incorrect media reports," 11Alive wants to be clear that this station never reported those details.

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