Food Safety Magazine

News | March 17, 2014

Suspected Norovirus Outbreak Closes Virginia Elementary School

By Heidi Parsons

Suspected Norovirus Outbreak Closes Virginia Elementary School

An Alexandria, VA elementary school closed last Friday after more than 200 students and 30 staff members came down with gastroenteritis symptoms that local health officials said were likely caused by norovirus. The school was slated to reopen today.

As reported by local news media and the school itself, John Adams Elementary School closed Mar. 14 to allow an outside contractor and Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) Department of Facilities staff "to clean and disinfect all shared surfaces and protect healthy students and staff from contracting this illness."

A number of John Adams students went home sick last Wednesday after experiencing "nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea," and school officials sent home a letter to parents "to inform them that cases of the illness had been reported in a small group of students." On Thursday, however, "As school staff performed classroom checks to confirm absences, nearly 50 additional students who exhibited symptoms of the illness were sent home," school officials said, and the decision was made to close the school on Friday.

On Friday, ACPS officials issued an announcement that John Adams Elementary would reopen today, but inclement weather led the district to announce early this morning that all Alexandria City schools would be closed today.