PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Montessori PreK-8 was closed today in hopes of containing a likely outbreak of norovirus.
Officials say around 150 students were absent from Pittsburgh Montessori on Thursday along with seven faculty members.
School officials can’t say for sure that they were all sick with the highly-contagious norovirus, but there was certainly enough concern to cancel class for today.
“Although we don’t yet have bacteriologic confirmation, we’re pretty certain this is norovirus, just from its pattern of infectivity and from the fact that it came on so quickly,” said Dr. Bruce Dixon, of the Allegheny County Health Department.
On Thursday morning, the Health Department got a call from Pittsburgh Montessori after 150 students were absent. Several faculty members were also out sick.
It was decided that it was best to close school on Friday to try and contain the virus from spreading even more. But Dr. Dixon says even with the closure, the main way to stop the virus is to wash your hands.
“This is fecal-orally spread. It’s an intestinal virus,” he said. “People use the bathroom and don’t wash their hands very well. They get small quantities, microscopic quantities of virus on their fingers. They touch things.”
Over the weekend, there also will be some intense cleaning and disinfecting inside Montessori to attempt to get rid of any bacteria. But Dr. Dixon says it simply needs to run its course.
“Although you can feel quite ill – you can have nausea, vomiting and diarrhea – kids tend to have more of the diarrhea than the nausea and vomiting – usually between 48 to 72 hours, it’s over,” Dr. Dixon said.
The plan is to have school reopen and classes resume on Monday, Oct. 31.