School closes due to suspected Norovirus outbreak

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE)- An outbreak of a contagious virus will shut down a Northeast Heights charter school for two days. Officials with 21st Century Public Academy say around 100 students were absent Wednesday, many of them complaining of a stomach bug. Several staff also called into work. It’s the second suspected case of Norovirus at a school in about a month. At the end of March, Albuquerque Public Schools say at least 10 kids called in sick from Dolores Gonzales Elementary, suspected of having Norovirus.

Workers have been wiping down surfaces with a bleach solution for a day and a half now, trying to kill off whatever is making these kids and teachers sick.

“I don’t think you ever expect it but, you do need to be prepared. Again, it’s alarming to have your children ill but we need to provide the safest plan that we can to make sure that they get healthy again,” said 21st Century Public Academy Principal Mary Tarango.

21st Century Public Academy’s Principal says they aim to wipe down every surface in the school as a precautionary measure. It’s also why they’ve closed down, Thursday and plan to be closed again Friday.

Tarango says it started Wednesday. Several students and teachers called in sick complaining of the same symptoms. As the day wore on, more and more students started having sudden symptoms like severe vomiting and diarrhea.

Officials with the Albuquerque Environmental Health Department say they sometimes see Norovirus in schools. In fact, they say it’s the exact setting where Norovirus can spread- a lot of people sharing the same food, touching the same surfaces and using the same public restrooms.

They say numbers are down compared to last year but the bug may be sticking around longer.

“What’s striking about this year is that we’re here in May and we’re still seeing cases. Although, normally, we think of this as a November through February- very much a winter type of deal so, the fact that we’ve gotten several outbreaks in the last few weeks here in the spring is a little unusual for us,” explains Environmental Health Department Deputy Director Mark DiMenna.

DiMenna says they’ve sent off samples of the virus to confirm it’s Norovirus.

He says, if you have symptoms, it’s important you stay home and stay hydrated. You can be infectious for up to three days after symptoms have stopped.

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