141 students absent Friday after suspected norovirus outbreak at Lincoln elementary school

LINCOLN, Neb. – A possible norovirus outbreak at a Lincoln elementary school forced a ‘significant amount’ of students to miss class on Friday.

At least 141 students were absent from the school by the end of the day. That’s 27-percent of the school’s listed student population of 520 kids. It’s important to note that’s the absentee number, not the total number of sick children.

Tim Timmons, the Communicable Disease Program Coordinator at the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department, said until testing gets back, it is not known exactly what the illness is. However, Timmons said the symptoms closely mimic norovirus.

Norovirus is an acute viral intestinal illness that usually lasts 24-48 hours, Timmons said.

The virus is highly contagious.

Here’s a copy of the letter sent home to West Lincoln Elementary families:

Dear West Lincoln families and staff:

I want to let you know about something that is happening at West Lincoln Elementary this week, and offer some helpful information.

Currently West Lincoln has a large number of students and staff who are out of school with symptoms consistent with norovirus, a very contagious illness.

Anyone can get sick with the norovirus from:

· Having direct contact with an infected person.
· Consuming contaminated food or water.
· Touching contaminated surfaces and putting your hands in your mouth.

Norovirus causes the following symptoms:

· Diarrhea
· Vomiting
· Nausea
· Stomach Pain

If your child develops or currently has symptoms of a norovirus, please keep them home from school for 24 hours after the vomiting or diarrhea is over. If any of these symptoms become severe, contact your health-care provider, letting your provider know of a possible exposure to norovirus.

At West Lincoln, we are doing everything possible to protect our children and keep our areas clean. Extra custodial staff will be at West Lincoln over the weekend.

We are also working closely with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department. We have attached a facts sheet on norovirus. Should you have any questions regarding this illness, please call the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department at 402-441-8053.