Mass. school closed due to norovirus outbreak

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — An elementary school in Massachusetts was closed Friday due to a suspected norovirus outbreak.

Fox 25 in Boston is reporting that about 20 percent of students went home sick from Memorial Elementary School in Winchendon, Mass.

The students affected range from Kindergarten through second grade – and health officials urged the school to close for the day so they could disinfect the building.

Eyewitness News has learned that Rhode Island has never had to close a school due to a norovirus outbreak. According to RI health officials, they see the virus more often in long-term care facilities and nursing homes.

Fact Sheet: Norovirus
Interactive: Norovirus Fact Sheet

“So what we track are norovirus outbreaks, typically, as I said, we might see 50 to 60 outbreaks a year,” said Joseph Wendelken of the RI Dept. of Heath.

“When we do see a situation like this, we reach out to whether it’s a school nurse or a principal, or the manager of the nursing home or a long-term care facility, and we work with them to address the situation.”

According to the health department, the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to wash your hands frequently.

Also, if you are experiencing symptoms of the virus, don’t handle or prepare food until three days after the symptoms have passed.

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