Stomach virus causing mass absences at Gwinnett middle school

A stomach bug is snaking its way through one Gwinnett County middle school this week, causing mass absences along the way.

Lanier Middle School, located at 6482 Suwanee Dam Road in Sugar Hill, has seen dozens of students miss class time, Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Roach confirmed. On Wednesday alone, a total of 68 students were absent, sent home or checked out.

Principal Todd Hamilton sent a letter home to parents Wednesday.

"In checking with parents of students who are out, many of the students are experiencing symptoms often associated with viral gastroenteritis -- vomiting and an upset stomach," Hamilton wrote. "Because of the number of students experiencing these symptoms, we have called our county nurse and the health department as a precaution and they are working with our school to assess the situation."

Hamilton urged parents to keep sick children home until their symptoms have subsided for at least 24 to 48 hours. He also stressed the importance of students thoroughly washing their hands before preparing or eating food, after going to the bathroom and upon returning home from school in the afternoon.

"Note that hand sanitizer is NOT effective against Norovirus," the principal wrote, "which is a common cause of this type of illness."

Gwinnett County's school year started Aug. 8.

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