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John Adams Elementary School Closed on Friday, March 14

School Surfaces Being Disinfected to Stop the Spread of Stomach Illness

Alexandria, Va. — Nearly 200 students at John Adams Elementary School, and more than 30 staff members, have developed a stomach illness (nausea, vomiting and/or diarrhea) in the past two days. The majority of the student illnesses were reported today. As school staff performed classroom checks to confirm absences, nearly 50 additional students who exhibited symptoms of the illness were sent home. A letter was sent to parents of John Adams students yesterday to inform them that cases of the illness had been reported in a small group of students.

The school division, collaborating with the Alexandria Health Department, has worked to identify cases and prevent the spread of this illness. Although those who have taken ill are not currently at the school, the building will be closed tomorrow, March 14, in order to clean and disinfect all shared surfaces and protect healthy students and staff from contracting this illness. SSC Service Solutions has been contracted to disinfect the school and will be supervised by ACPS Department of Facilities staff. Cleaning will take place on Friday, March 14, and the building will be disinfected throughout the weekend. School is scheduled to resume on Monday, March 17.

According to the Alexandria Health Department, many viruses and some bacteria can cause stomach illness, or "gastroenteritis." The most likely cause in this case is a virus called "norovirus." Symptoms usually get better in two days. Actions to prevent additional people from catching this are necessary because there is no medicine or treatment to shorten the illness. This type of illness is usually highly contagious through contact with an infected person or through contact with contaminated food or objects.

The health department recommends that parents make sure their child washes his or her hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If your child develops vomiting or diarrhea, please keep your child home for 24 hours after the symptoms stop before sending your child back to school.

To help protect students and prevent the spread of illness, please keep your child at home and inform school officials if you believe your child is ill. Please also consult your doctor if you suspect your child has a stomach illness and share this information with them. Sick children should remain home until they are free from symptoms for one entire day (24 hours). Parents should watch for signs of dehydration if your ill child cannot drink fluids. Call your doctor immediately if you have any concerns about dehydration. More information about this type of stomach illness is available from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

For more information, please contact Director of Communications and Public Relations Kelly L. Alexander at 703-824-6635.