Students and staff will return to Riverton Elementary School on July 27 for the start of the 1998-'99 year-round school year.

The Jordan District Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday night to reopen the school, which was closed on Feb. 26. Two days earlier, the school had been evacuated after 19 students were treated in area hospitals for complaints of rashes and respiratory troubles.Some staff and students had reported chronic health problems at the school since it opened three years ago.

While no one can pinpoint the cause of the problems, scientific and medical reviews suggest a common virus may have caused the rashes in February. Chronic health concerns may be linked to sewer gas smells, although test instruments detected only miniscule levels of hydrogen sulfide in the building.

Teachers will return to work on July 21, their first contract day. The school will host an open house on July 22 and classes will resume five days later.

School board president Jane Callister said she believes the school district has taken thorough measures to ensure the school is safe. She encouraged parents to read the report prepared by scientists, engineers and physicians, which chronicles the tests and findings.

The school sewer system is being modified. A private contractor will monitor air quality every 15 minutes around the clock for the next year.

The school district and area agencies have shored up evacuation procedures.

Superintendent Barry Newbold said he was pleased the school board authorized reopening the school.

"We feel every precaution has been taken to ensure and maintain the health and safety of our staff and students," he said.

"We very much appreciate the the patience and cooperation of the community and are very much looking forward to a successful year at Riverton."