Phoenix school dealing with suspected norovirus outbreak

Posted: Updated:
By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas

PHOENIX -- Kyrene School District is dealing with what appears to be an outbreak of norovirus at one of its schools.

District officials notified parents that many children at Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School in Phoenix had stayed home this week with symptoms of vomiting and/or diarrhea and stomachache.

More than 250 students, nearly half of those enrolled at the school, either stayed home from class Friday or were sent home. District officials believe a portion of those absences was related to norovirus.

The school first noticed something was wrong on Thursday, when many students were absent due to illness.

Officials said they are consulting with Southwest Foods regarding meals served recently, but said the children affected did not all eat school lunches and there is no current evidence to suggest school food is involved.

School classrooms, lunchrooms, playground and buses have been thoroughly cleaned by staff and a professional cleaning company, according to district officials. Colina building staff will continue cleaning protocols over the weekend.

They are working with the Maricopa County Health Department to determine any additional steps.

Teachers are taking extra precautions to minimize contact between students.

"Not be using equipment where we would be sharing, like manipulatives for math or, you know, in some cases technology as well," said Kelly Alexander with Kyrene School District.

"They took all the precautions that they could have," said parent Nena Navarro. "They did a good job."

Symptoms of the virus usually begin 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Most people are contagious from when the symptoms begin until three days after the symptoms stop.

District officials said to keep children home if they are ill.

"She's just had a little bit of a bellyache," Christi Deg said of her daughter, a first-grader at the school. "We figured it was better to keep her home than to send her to school."

Some parents kept their healthy children home as a precaution.

"My co-worker kept her kids home," Navarro said. "She just didn't want them to be around other kids."

All Kyrene schools were in session Friday and no closures are anticipated.

Find out more information about norovirus