The contagion prompted school officials to cancel after-school activities on Friday, including a PTA-sponsored “Sweetheart Dance.” Students were sent home with a letter on Friday advising parents on how to prevent the spread of gastrointestinal illness.
“This communication is being sent to let you know that Public Health has been receiving an increase in reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness in members of the Barcroft school community,” the letter reads. “If your child develops vomiting or diarrhea, we recommend that you keep your child home for 24 hours after the symptoms stop before sending your child back to school.”
School will reopen and activities will resume as normal on Wendesday, weather permitting.
School Health Bureau Chief Marian Harmon told ARLnow.com in an email this afternoon that, between Feb. 11 and Feb. 13, 38 students at Barcroft were either sent home or stayed home with gastrointestinal issues.
“Kids were lying around the office waiting to be picked up” on Friday, an ARLnow.com tipster wrote in an email.
Because Arlington Public Schools offices were closed due to the snow today, officials could not confirm the number of cases reported at Barcroft. In the letter, APS said all shared surfaces in the school are disinfected “each day and after any illnesses at the school.”
After the jump, the letter APS sent home with Barcroft students.
Dear Barcroft Families:
This communication is being sent to let you know that Public Health has been receiving an increase in reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness in members of the Barcroft school community.
FACTS: Many viruses and some bacteria can cause “gastroenteritis”, or infection of the stomach and/or intestines. Symptoms typically resolve in a few days in most cases. Prevention is essential because of a lack of vaccines and effective treatments for these pathogens.
HOW IT SPREADS: These pathogens are typically HIGHLY contagious through contact with an infected person’s vomit or stool, or through contact with contaminated food or objects.
PLEASE DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL IF:
- 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.
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Make sure your child washes their hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water both at home and at school. Scrubbing should last for 20 seconds. If your child develops vomiting or diarrhea, we recommend that you keep your child home for 24 hours after the symptoms stop before sending your child back to school.
WHAT WE ARE DOING: School Health, which is part of the Public Health Division, is working closely with Arlington Public Schools to identify cases and to prevent the spread of the disease. Shared surfaces are being disinfected each day and after any illnesses at school.
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).
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/norovirus/about/overview.html.
QUESTIONS: If you have questions, please contact the school clinic at (703) 228-8109. The School Health Bureau’s website is www.apsva.us/schoolhealth.
Marian D. Harmon, MSN, RN Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH
School Health Bureau Chief Public Health Physician