Just in time for Back to School, there is a suspected norovirus outbreak going on at an elementary school. It is an unfortunate coincidence for the more than 30 kids who got sick in their second week of school at Trailblazer Elementary, but it does highlight the virus’s ease of spread and the importance of taking preventive measures.
Noroviruses and schools are not a new pairing, and in fact the virus was first identified in samples taken from an elementary school outbreak in Norwalk, Ohio. Norovirus is sometimes known as Norwalk virus, although scientifically that now only applies to specific strains.
Since there is not yet a vaccine for the virus and our own immunity tends to not last long against it, prevention is our best defense. Schools sometimes defend their students by disinfecting the surfaces in the schools, cancelling classes when a large number of their staff and students are sick, and asking ill children to be kept home from school. In the case of Trailblazer Elementary, they thoroughly cleaned the premises and sent informational letters to parents.
As for an easy thing you can do to prevent the spread of norovirus, the CDC recommends using good handwashing practices, with plenty of soap and water. An easy way to get children (and adults) to scrub long enough is to have them sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice, which is about 20 seconds long.