Clark County school, believed hit by virus, will be closed today

UPDATE @ 9:35 p.m.: South Vienna School (elementary and middle school) will be closed today, Dec. 8, Superintendent John Kronour announced.


More than 100 students and some teachers were out sick Wednesday at a South Vienna school and Clark County health officials are looking into if a norovirus outbreak could be behind the absences.

The Clark County Combined Health District will perform tests to determine whether or not the illnesses are linked to norovirus, which is a gastrointestinal virus that lasts 24 to 48 hours.

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The absences occurred at South Vienna Elementary and Middle School. Northeastern Local School District leaders are working with the health district for guidance, Superintendent John Kronour said.

More custodians are being brought in to thoroughly clean the building, he said, and no illnesses have been reported in other district schools.

“We’re trying to do what we can to be as preventative in nature as possible,” Kronour said.

Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson didn’t recommend shutting the school down.

Whether or not classes are canceled will depend on if there are enough staff members to operate, Kronour said. He didn’t disclose how many teachers are out.

“We’re hoping it runs its course pretty quickly,” Kronour said. “We’ll turn a corner and get back to business as usual.”

A letter was sent to parents Wednesday and posted on the school's website explaining the situation. It described what norovirus is and how they can prevent the spread of it.

If children are sick, they need to stay home for at least 24 hours, Patterson said, because the virus can spread for days after symptoms have ended. Rest and fluids are the best way to battle it, he said.

The symptoms for the gastrointestinal virus include vomiting, some diarrhea and possibly a low grade fever, he said.

“From the symptoms we see, we hope the information we’ve given out to the parents and teachers and staff members will help to resolve this very quickly,” Patterson said.

Samples from individuals and food will be used to determine if it’s norovirus, he said. The illness can be spread from a small amount of virus.

“It can spread like wildfire,” Patterson said. “It’s one of those things that’s difficult to control unless we keep the sick people away from the well people.”

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