Stomach bug causes school closure in Lilburn

by: Diana Davis Updated:

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A nasty stomach bug closed a Gwinnett County elementary school Friday.

The Health Department and school staff cleaned Knight Elementary in Lilburn to prevent the illness from spreading.

More than 80 of the school's 720 students were absent Thursday. By noon, the kids who did show up also began to get sick from a stomach bug. The Health Department told the district it would be best to close school Friday.

“That prevents rapid spread of illness and that's why we worked closely with the school system to do what we needed to do to prevent the spread,” said the Gwinnet County Health department epidemiologist Alana Sulka.

The Health Department believes the bug going around is the norovirus.  It's the same one that's caused nasty outbreaks on  cruise ships. Sulka said though the symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea are unpleasant, the illness usually lasts no more than a couple of days and in most cases it’s not serious.

“We see norvirus outbreaks every year. We saw about 32 outbreaks in our district last year. We predict this will be a similar year for norovirus,” Sulka said.

The virus is tough to kill and sanitizers may not work. Frequent hand-washing with soap and water is best.

The school sent a letter home to educate parents and to let them know there would be no school Friday. The Health Department and school officials scrubbed the school  from top to bottom, said district spokesperson Sloan Roach.

“They really have been working all day just to wipe down, disinfect clean all of these hard surfaces in the school. As you can imagine with elementary-age students they touch everything,” Roach said.

So far, Gwinnett schools said absentee rates at other district schools are  at normal levels. If your child does get sick, keep them at home, Roach said.

“Your student needs to be symptom-free for 24 hours without taking any medication,” Roach said.

The school is set to open again Monday.

For more information on the norovirus, click HERE.