100 students fall ill at Rockdale elementary school, prompting 2-day closure

Norovirus has spread throughout the school

A Rockdale County elementary school will be closed for two days after about 100 students and more than a dozen staff members were absent with a gastrointestinal bug.

Pine Street Elementary will be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the uptick in reported absences, Rockdale schools spokeswoman Cindy Ball said.

The Rockdale County Health Department believes norovirus is the cause, Ball said.

According to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus causes inflammation of the stomach or intestines and can cause vomiting and diarrhea. A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to the virus, and most people get better within one to three days, the CDC said.

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About 100 students and eight staff members were out Friday, Ball said. Monday and Tuesday saw 93 and 98 student absences, respectively. Ball said 18 staff members called out sick Monday, and 16 were out Tuesday.

In a letter sent to parents, officials said the school is “working closely with the Rockdale County Health Department to determine the cause of illness and to put in place measures to reduce the spread of illness.”

Ball told Channel 2 Action News the county is following the health department’s suggestions to clean the building.

“(We are) just making sure that we are doing a thorough cleaning, going through all the classrooms, going through all the common spaces, and making sure we are using the right cleaning solutions for the right amount of time,” Ball told the news station.

The school plans to reopen Friday, but officials “ask that you continue to keep sick children home until they are free from vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours without medication,” the letter said.

In other news:

Earlier this month, police arrested a husband and wife in the largest fentanyl bust authorities have ever had in Cherokee County after a monthslong investigation