Elementary school closed due to spread of stomach bug

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Many students and faculty became ill

A local elementary school was closed Monday due to the spread of a stomach bug, the principal said.

“Recently, an increase in gastrointestinal illness has been reported among students and staff at Honey Creek Elementary School,” principal Susan Norton wrote in a letter to parents. “Our 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.”

Based on the symptoms reported, county health officials suspect norovirus is likely what caused students and staff to become ill.

Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. It can be spread through direct contact with an infected person, consumption of contaminated food or water, and touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth.

A person usually develops symptoms 12 to 48 hours after being exposed to norovirus, according to the CDC. Most people with norovirus illness get better within 1 to 3 days.

MORE: 7 things you never knew about norovirus

If norovirus is the culprit, this would not be the first time Honey Creek has been impacted by it. Rockdale County voters assigned to the school had to cast their ballots elsewhere after an outbreak in February 2016.

RELATED: Rockdale County polling place moved due to possible norovirus outbreak

County health officials recommend parents:

  • Monitor their child and other family members to see if they develop diarrhea and/or vomiting. "If your child develops vomiting or diarrhea, please keep them home from school until their symptoms are gone for at least 24-48 hours without the aid of medication," Norton said.
  • Contact their child's physician and inform them that there are students with viral gastroenteritis.
  • Encourage their child and other family members to thoroughly wash their hands before preparing or eating food, after using the toilet and upon returning home from school in the afternoons. "Staff at our school will continue to work with your child to encourage proper hand washing at school," Norton said.

Honey Creek Elementary will reopen Tuesday, according to a school system spokeswoman, but officials ask parents to “keep sick children home until they are free from vomiting or diarrhea for 24 hours without medication.”

In other news:

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It happened at a gated apartment complex on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta.