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Norovirus Outbreak Shuts Down Livonia School: The Stomach Bug Strikes

by Ana Lopez
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After widespread illness among students and staff from a highly contagious stomach ulcer, a Metro Detroit school was forced to halt classes for the rest of the week.

To contain an epidemic of norovirus, the administrators of St. Michaels Catholic School along Plymouth Road in Livonia decided to postpone classes and after-school activities until next Tuesday, February 14.

To prevent the spread of the disease, including vomiting and diarrhea, co-director Kathy Nold reminded parents and children that it is quite common.

Nold stated in her statement: “The health department indicated that we acted correctly in closing the school as soon as possible.”

Nold claims the outbreak started Monday after students started feeling sick. Things quickly got worse when at least two students threw up in their classrooms.

Nold stated, “We had students who vomit…Tuesday, well before lunchtime, and then a progressive number of students who gradually threw up over the rest of the day.” “We also have siblings who start symptoms in a progressive way.”

Norovirus outbreak closes Livonia school
Norovirus outbreak closes Livonia school

On Wednesday, about a dozen students reported vomiting in class, according to Nold, who said the illness persisted among students. Staff did their best to deal with the situation, but Nold claimed they lacked the resources to deal with an outbreak that affected the entire school.

“Furthermore, to say that the events were… disruptive and distressing (for the affected students) is an understatement,” she explained. “It would be unmanageable on a school level to have what happened in our first grade yesterday (10 students vomited in classrooms within the space of 4 hours).”

Several members of staff are currently ill, said the co-director.

“I have made the very difficult choice to close the school and all programs in our building until Tuesday, Feb. 14,” Monsignor Tindall said after meeting with the Wayne County Health Department and reading the literature they provided.

According to administrators, students would already have Monday 13 February off. Classes will begin at the regular time the next day.

While Nold expressed regret to families if the decision to cancel classes interfered with work schedules or other commitments, she insisted that keeping everyone home was in the “best interest of our school’s health.”

She continued: “We have been informed by the health department that we would likely have to restart this entire cycle of school closures if a student were to vomit in a classroom with this Norovirus in the next few days. “We don’t want this”

The Norovirus is extremely contagious for at least three days after a person recovers from symptoms, according to the Wayne County Health Department.

Direct contact with an infected person, drinking contaminated food or water, touching contaminated surfaces and then putting your unwashed hands in your mouth are all easy and quick ways to contract the virus.

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Despite being common from November to April, outbreaks are widespread throughout the year, according to health officials.

Parents were advised by Nold not to send their children to school until three days after they felt better.

“By closing the school now, we can make those sick students better and no longer contagious to others,” the co-principal continued in her letter. I hope the parents reading this will realize that I don’t take this choice lightly, but I also know it’s the right one.

While everyone is home, the school’s maintenance crew cleans all handrails, doorknobs and other surfaces that the nebulizer cannot reach, as well as classrooms and common areas, using an aerosol disinfectant.

“In addition, we clean all affected carpets and floors and adhere to all safety measures for the waste treatment process. Per our regulations and the directions of the Wayne County Health Department, we adhere to all health and safety measures. I hope this brings you comfort and peace of mind.”

Nold requested that parents contact Kelly Burchart, the school secretary, at kburchart@livoniastmichael.org with any new cases of probable norovirus.

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