Logan County school hit hard by Norovirus

By Josh Simon

January 16, 2013 Updated Jan 16, 2013 at 11:24 PM CDT

MIDDLETOWN, Ill. -- On a normal day 120 students in grades K-8 fill the classrooms at New Holland-Middletown Elementary school. Not this week, thanks to flu-like symptoms, as many as 40 percent of the kids have missed school.

"Kids coming in with stomach cramps, low fevers that start at 99 but at the end of the day they're usually at 100,102, 101," said New Holland-Middletown Secretary Amy Schmitz. "Lots of just not feeling great. Pale, you go ahead and take their temperature and try to send them back to class. They're back in 15 minutes saying they're going to be sick to their stomach."

So, the district took action.

New Holland-Middletown Superintendent Todd Dugan said, "We decided that instead of waiting for these numbers to continue to climb pass the 40 percent, we decided to send the kids home early. We sent a broadcast out to parents letting them know that kids were coming home early. That would give us a chance to seriously disinfect the school."

District Employees wiped down everything in the school including hand rails, drinking fountains, door knobs and even the dodge balls.

"We're not the first school to shut down early to disinfect the school," said Dugan. "I guess with all the attention focused on the flu and flu prevention we erred on the side of student safety and we stand by that. I think it was a good call."

New Holland-Middletown Parent Lyssa Kirgan said, "It made complete sense to me. That way they could clean the whole school and make sure the kids that are healthy, stay healthy."

Kirgan knows first hand what this virus can do. All three of her children have been home sick this week, including her daughter who she picked up early on Wednesday.

"I would rather take her home and let her rest and get feeling better that way she can concentrate when she gets back," said Kirgan.

For the kids that are in class, the goal is to make sure they stay healthy.

"We are talking about hand washing, covering your mouth, not drinking from each others drinks and lunches," said Schmitz. "It's just constant cleanliness. Wash, wash, wash your hands."

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