By: Sharon Aron Baron
Residents with children in Coral Springs schools have been concerned about the the recent outbreaks of the norovirus after a couple of cases have been reported by the Department of Health and dozens more by parents on social media.
According the Center for Disease Control (CDC) norovirus is a very contagious virus that can infect anyone. It can be spread from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes a person’s stomach or intestines – or both to get inflamed. This can lead one to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up. These symptoms can be serious for some people, especially young children and older adults.
According to Tracy Clark, Chief Public Information Officer for Broward Schools, the District Health Coordinated Services Department works closely with the Florida Department of Health in Broward County regarding any issues related to public health. and they are the agency, not the school board, that determines public health situations.
This past week, the Florida Department of Health identified two cases of norovirus in school age children. A person usually develops symptoms of gastroenteritis 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus.
• Acute-onset of vomiting
• Watery, non-bloody diarrhea with abdominal cramps
Symptoms of gastroenteritis usually last 24 to 72 hours. Noroviruses are highly contagious.
Primarily, noroviruses are spread through:
• Close personal contact with an infected person, or
• Fecal-oral route when a person consumes contaminated food or water.
• The virus can also spread through touching contaminated surfaces, objects, or substances.
Students and staff with norovirus should stay home for 3 days following the end of symptoms.
After receiving information from the Department of health, Eagle Ridge and Westchester Elementary schools went through the following:
• The entire school underwent a thorough cleaning and sanitizing. All common areas, including the playgrounds, continue to be sanitized daily, with regular cleanings ongoing.
• School buses that service the school have been sanitized.
• Water fountains are covered and bottle water is provided.
• Parents have been provided instructions for recognizing gastroenteritis symptoms and advised to seek medical attention should symptoms persist, per the Health Department.
• The school continues to reinforce with parents, students and staff the importance of washing hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the restroom and prior to eating.
• The principal continues to communicate with parents/guardians and staff.
• The school’s aftercare program is adhering to the same requirements and precautionary measures as the school, as stipulated by the Florida Department of Health in Broward.:
If your child experiences any symptoms of norovirus, make sure they taken to a doctor or clinic and the symptoms are reported with the Department of Health. The Department of Health will then inform the district of any further outbreaks.