Students at Rosehill Elementary in the Shawnee Mission School District will return back to school Monday after taking a two-day hiatus from class.
District officials canceled classes last Thursday and Friday to scrub down the school because of a stomach bug outbreak. After tests came back, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reported that the illness was the highly contagious norovirus.
School officials were not sure initially what caused it, but as a precaution, they canceled school so staff could wipe out any sort of germs that might still be lingering inside the classrooms.
"I know kids get sick, but so many at once? I don't know what to think. It is just scary," parent Shabretta Hughes said.
Parents got the news as they picked up their kids from an after-school program Wednesday at the school near West 99th and Rosehill streets. Children were sent home with a letter explaining several kids were sick, suffering from vomiting and diarrhea.
Principal Greg Lawrence didn't elaborate on a cause of the outbreak but promised staff would give the entire school a thorough cleaning while classes are empty Thursday and Friday.The goal is to stop person-to-person contact that spreads the illness.
Samples were sent to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for analysis.
"Like all viral infections, norovirus are not affected by treatment with antibiotics and cannot grow outside of a person's body. People infected with norovirus are the most contagious from the moment they begin feeling ill to at least three days after recovery. Norovirus can be found in your vomit or stool even before you start feeling sick. The virus can stay in your stool for two weeks or more after you feel better. So, it is important to continue washing your hands often during this time. People should refrain from going to work or school until they are symptom-free for at least 24 hours without the use of medication," a release from the Shawnee Mission School District said.
"It can be spread by not washing your hands completely either, after a vomiting or diarrhea episode, then touching objects. Someone then comes behind you and touches the same surface," Lougene Marsh, the director of the Johnson County Health Department, said.
Still many parents were worried their loved ones were vulnerable.
"This is just her second day of school, and already class has been dismissed because of an illness. [It] always concerns me. It spreads. She takes it home and gives it to her brother," Hughes said.
Parents are urged to keep a close eye out for symptoms, and if their kids do get sick, they should stay home for a full 24 hours.
The letter sent home with students also urged parents and their children to wash their hands as often as possible. School officials said that is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.
Health experts said hands should be scrubbed for at least 15 to 20 seconds.
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