School officials in Arlington did the right thing by canceling classes on Friday after 112 students in the city’s K-12 school became ill, a public health official said Friday.
Investigators with the Three Rivers Public Health Department suspect the students have norovirus, but there’s no lab confirmation yet, said Terra Uhing, the department’s health director.
Norovirus is a highly contagious illness that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
Classes are set to resume Monday. St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Arlington was open Friday, but with no bus service.
About 60 students in the school, which has an enrollment of about 640, reportedly were ill on Wednesday, Uhing said. Health department officials began investigating then, she said.
Thursday started out with 102 sick Arlington students, Uhing said, and by the end of the day, the number had risen to 112. The majority were elementary school students, she said, but high schoolers also were affected.
When 12% to 15% of a school’s students become ill, she said, “that’s definitely an area of concern.” The 112 number is 17.5% of 640.
Public health officials suggested that the Arlington Public Schools close Friday, and district leaders agreed.
The school will be deep-cleaned over the weekend.
Arlington isn’t the only school to be affected by a possible norovirus outbreak. All 46 schools in the school district serving Grand Junction, Colorado, and the surrounding area were closed and won’t reopen until after the Thanksgiving break so custodians can disinfect surfaces, the Associated Press reported.
Uhing said people should take extra care to wash their hands and cover their mouths if they feel sick. She also said people should stay home if they become ill. People can disinfect surfaces in their home with a mixture of a quarter cup of bleach to a gallon of water.
Three Rivers Public Health Department serves Washington, Dodge and Saunders Counties. Arlington, in Washington County, is about 35 miles northwest of Omaha.
The school district said on its Facebook page that if “you or a family member is currently symptomatic with diarrhea and would be willing to provide a sample for testing, or have already provided a stool sample to your health care provider, please contact Three Rivers Public Health Department at 402-727-5396.”