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Cople Elementary Closed for Public Safety

36 students were absent from Cople Elementary School on Thur. Feb. 16, and 30 more went home sick resulting in the Cople Elementary School closing on Friday due to illness. Nine teachers were also either absent or left that day from the illness.

The Virginia Department of Health has advised school officials that the illness is likely due to the Norovirus; a virus that causes the “stomach flu” or vomiting and diarrhea in people.

The virus is spread through person to person contact or coming in contact with either fecal matter or vomit. These bodily fluids can be spread if people who come in contact with them do not use proper hygiene procedures to keep them from spreading.

Spreading of the Norovirus, although highly contagious, can be prevented by following proper hand washing procedures, disinfecting affected surfaces with chlorine bleach, and avoiding touching ones, eyes, nose or mouth before properly washing hands.

As a precaution and due to limited staff the Cople Elementary School has been closed for Friday and Staff is disinfecting all surfaces per health department procedures. School will be closed Monday for Presidents day and is planned to reopen on Tuesday at the normal schedule.

The following recommendations were sent home to parents in a letter;

  • Please encourage your child to wash his/her hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after using the toilet and prior to eating.

  • If your child has “stomach flu-like “ symptoms, including upset stomach, vomiting and/or diarrhea, please keep your child home from school.

  • If your child has vomiting and/or diarrhea, it is important that your child DOES NOT return to school until at least 2 full days (48 hours) AFTER the symptoms have ended AND your child feels better.

  • It is also recommended that your child not attend any group events such as birthday parties, clubs or sports teams, etc. until at least 48 hours after symptoms have ended.

According to the *CDC, Although symptoms are usually mild in healthy people, children, elderly and sick are highly susceptible and reports the noroviruses are highly contagious with as few as 100 virus particles thought to be sufficient to cause infection.

This super concentration of contagious particles is what concerns healthcare providers the most. Resulting in a greater need for proper hygiene to be observed to control spreading. 

For more information visit the Westmoreland Schools website at http://cople.wmlcps.org/ and download the letter sent home and the Norovirus Fact sheet. You can also learn more by visiting the Center for Disease website at www.cdc.gov.

* Norovirus in Healthcare Facilities Fact Sheet released on December 21,2006

www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/revb/gastro/downloads/noro-hc-facilities-fs-508.pdf

The Following is a copy of the letter the school sent home to parents:

February 17, 2012

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Several students and staff in our school are sick with vomiting and diarrhea.  Virginia Department of Health is working with us at Cople Elementary School to help prevent more illness.  At this time, it appears that the cause of the illness is a virus, most likely the Norovirus (Norwalk-like virus).

We are asking for your cooperation in following the advice given to us by the Virginia Department of Health.

  • Please encourage your child to wash his/her hands thoroughly with warm water and soap after using the toilet and prior to eating.

  • If your child has “stomach flu-like “ symptoms, including upset stomach, vomiting and/or diarrhea, please keep your child home from school.

  • If your child has vomiting and/or diarrhea, it is important that your child DOES NOT return to school until at least 2 full days (48 hours) AFTER the symptoms have ended AND your child feels better.

  • It is also recommended that your child not attend any group events such as birthday parties, clubs or sports teams, etc. until at least 48 hours after symptoms have ended.

We have attached an information sheet about Norovirus.  Please read this information as it should help you to better understand the illness and reduce spread in your home and to others.

Sincerely,

Sheri Almond Tammy Woolard, RN

Principal School Nurse

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