An Arlington Public Schools spokesman said 135 of the school’s 800 students were out, after about 85 were absent yesterday (Wednesday).
The spokesman said that while it sounded like a “typical [stomach] bug that makes its way around this time of year,” he said he could not be sure that all the absences were related to it.
Multiple anonymous tipsters reported the spread of the illness through the school at 1030 N. McKinley Road in Madison Manor.
The School Health Bureau within the county’s Department of Health sent a letter to parents warning of an “increase in reported symptoms of gastrointestinal illness,” and urging parents to make sure children wash their hands and stay home if they develop vomiting or diarrhea.
Parents throughout APS can expect to receive a letter soon about winter illnesses in the community, which the spokesman said is “typically sent each December to our families as a reminder.”
The School Health Bureau’s letter to McKinley parents is after the jump.
Dear McKinley 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 McKinley school community.
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 they were feeling sick the day before.
- This includes vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain/cramping, or fever.
- Even if they feel okay on the morning of school, they are still able to spread the illness to others.
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 https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/about/index.html.
QUESTIONS: If you have questions, please contact the school clinic at (703) 228-8254. The School Health Bureau’s website is www.apsva.us/schoolhealth.
Sarah Bell, RN, MPH
School Health Bureau Chief
Samuel Stebbins, MD, MPH
School Health Physician