Norovirus Outbreak Reported at Arlington Public Schools

by ARLnow.com December 12, 2012 at 3:55 pm 7,176 16 Comments

(Updated at 5:05 p.m.) Parents of Arlington public school students were told today that “one or more outbreaks of norovirus have been confirmed in schools in Arlington.”

It’s the second publicly reported norovirus outbreak at Arlington Public Schools so far this year. In February a norovirus outbreak was reported at two Arlington schools.

This time around, outbreaks have been reported at Patrick Henry and Randolph elementary schools, according to APS Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations Linda Erdos, who added that the letter below was sent to all parents “because it’s that time of year” for norovirus outbreaks.

Earlier this year, APS spokesman Frank Bellavia described the February outbreak as “nothing unusual” and noted that previous outbreaks did not result in any student requiring hospitalization.

The Arlington Department of Human Services sent the following letter to APS parents today.

Dear APS Families:

This communication is being sent to let you know that one or more outbreaks of NOROVIRUS have been confirmed in schools in Arlington. This virus spreads very quickly and easily and there is no vaccine or medicine for it. Even if your school has not been affected, prevention is essential!

FACTS:  Norovirus causes “gastroenteritis”, or infection of the stomach and/or intestines. The most common symptoms are nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Symptoms typically resolve in a few days, although in rare cases the outcome can be more serious.

HOW IT SPREADS:  These pathogens are HIGHLY contagious through contact with an infected person’s vomit or stool, or through contact with contaminated food or objects.


  • You know or suspect that your child has a fever or is ill. Please delay sending her/him to school and take the time to feel certain that she/he is well enough to participate in school activities.
  • Your child has vomited the night before, or in the morning before going to school.
  • Your child has diarrhea, stomach pain or cramping.
  • Your child complains of generally not feeling well.
  • Your child has any combination of the above symptoms.


Make sure your child washes their hands frequently and thoroughly before meals or food preparation, after meals, after using the bathroom, and anytime their hands get dirty. Use soap and warm water and scrub for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” TWICE).

IF SYMPTOMS DEVELOP:  Please keep your child at home and inform the school. For additional guidance, contact your healthcare provider and provide them with a copy of this letter.  Your child will need to remain at home until they are free from symptoms for one entire day (24 hours).

WHAT WE ARE DOING:  School Health, which is part of the Public Health Department, is working closely with Arlington Public Schools to identify cases and to prevent the spread of the disease

WARNING:  Monitor for signs of dehydration if your child is unable to keep fluids down.

MORE INFORMATION:  If you want to read more, information from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is available at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/faq.htm.

QUESTIONS:  If you have questions, please contact the nurse in your child’s school clinic or visit the School Health Bureau’s website at www.apsva.us/schoolhealth.


Marian D. Harmon, MSN, RN
School Health Bureau Chief

Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH
Public Health Physician

  • Shhhh

    Why so secret? Which schools and how many cases? C’mon Arlington.

  • Yuck

    Pretty sure one of them is Oakridge Elementary

  • arlwhen

    Campbell Elementary started suffering from this about 2 weeks ago. Nice of APS to finally let us know what we already knew.

  • Max

    Note to parents: sending your kids to school with Purell won’t have and effect because norovirus is not killed by alcohol. This is one case where soap is actually better.

    • BoredHouseWife

      thank you. I did not know that.

  • 120

    Yes, it would have been nice of them to let us know what schools are effected.

    • We just heard back from the school system and updated the article with the schools affected.

      • southarlington

        THanks for getting this information about the schools very helpful….

  • Gina M

    Kids should really be home for 72 hours after symptoms have subsided. I know this is not always realistic, but it would definitely help curb the spread of things. People are very contagious for at least two days after symptoms have gone away; sometimes longer (the virus is shed in the stool for two weeks or more).

  • Amanda M

    My child attends one of the preschool classes inside an APS High School. We were not notified about this. I found this article through ArlNow.

    Please add preschool families to e-mail information.

  • AnalRetentiveChef

    20 seconds of washing? How many people do that on a regular basis.

  • Narlington

    Isn’t that like the Arlington schools a day late and a dollar short. So is the school going to clean the buildings to kill the virus?

    • near you

      I totally agree that schools should be disinfected. The only problem with that approach is that the moment a carrier walk into school, contamination begins all over again. Hopefully, the school system is making the cleaning crews ramp up their cleaning/disinfecting protocol. The best thing to do is let the parents and kids of the affected schools know it is their school and make sure the parents are cognizant of abatement measures, both at the school and at home. It would be nice if all parents checked their children for fever each morning. I know the busy, two working parent families will be inconvenienced (I am in that category) but public health must be the priority. Getting the Norovirus really, really sucks.

  • Jenny2026

    I’m surprised they never sent anything out about the little problem Washington Lee had with some sort of contagious skin virus that was effecting the sports program. They still haven’t told us what it was.

    • Sarcastic Jane

      Skin virus is probably MRSA again caused by sports equipment not being cleaned properly both at school and at home. Wrestling mats are the biggest carriers of MRSA but it can live and contaminate just about anywhere. There are high powered anti-bacterial soaps specifically designed to kill MRSA that can be purchased online.

  • Sarcastic Jane

    Extended day programs are to blame. Excessive amounts of toys that are not cleaned regularly or stored in a manner to keep them clean or away from rodents, yes rodents are a regularly seen in all ACPS. Liberal Arlington parents not forcing their children to bathe and wash on a regular basis as well.


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