Laurens County schools sterilizing facilities after possible norovirus outbreak

DUBLIN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Crews spent Friday sterilizing Laurens County school after more than 100 students went home sick, possibly with the norovirus. 41NBC found out how the district is handling the outbreak to make sure students and staff are safe when they come back to school on Monday.

Laurens County schools closed Friday for all students and staff after a possible norovirus outbreak. Superintendent Rob Johnson says 60 students ranging from ages four to seven were throwing up Thursday morning.

“By 1, 1:30 p.m. we had about 140 kids that were ill, so we knew we had a problem and we knew we had to do something,” Johnson said.

Johnson first thought this was an isolated incident, but soon got notice the potential virus was spreading.

“We do have siblings that attend the other schools. As the day went on we began to have spots of students who were becoming ill and throwing up throughout the county,” Johnson said.

Health officials believe it was spread person to person.

“I don’t think it’s really an unusual occurrence. It happens occasionally in an institutional settings and I don’t think there’s anything to be overly concerned about,” Mark Harden, the director of Environmental Health and Emergency Preparedness for the South Central Health District, said.

The school district is spending the long weekend sterilizing school buses and all of the facilities across the county.

“So Friday, Saturday, Sunday should give us plenty of time to get back on track and Monday we should be fine,” Johnson said.

Crews are going classroom by classroom using these machines called foggers and they are spreading disinfectant from the floor to the ceiling.

“In about 10 minutes that kills all of the norovirus,” McKinley Kemp, the director of maintenance and facilities at Laurens County Schools, said. “Then we go back and add on a second coating which is a stabilizer. It coats the walls, desks, floors, and it will continue to kill for 90 days.”

The South Central Health District isn’t confirming this is the norovirus until it gets the test results back. It expects to have those by next week. It does say those who are ill are showing the symptoms. 

“Mainly nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and inflammation in the stomach that can cause cramping sometimes,” Harden said.

Johnson says the school district has never had an outbreak like this before. He says students’ health and safety are his top priority.

“The biggest bulk of them are our smallest and precious commodities in Laurens County,” Johnson said. “We hope all of our students get some rest and will come back with those big smiles like we see everyday when they come to school.”

Health officials are asking parents to monitor their kids. If they’re showing any symptoms, don’t send them to school on Monday.

There isn’t a treatment for norovirus. Harden says you have to wait it out and stay hydrated.

Categories: Laurens County, Local News

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