Traverse City Record-Eagle

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November 4, 2011

Platte school still reeling from illness

TRAVERSE CITY — A suspected norovirus continued to cause student absences at a Benzie County school, though attendance was up from earlier this week.

Platte River Elementary School Principal Phil Cook said about 80 students missed school Thursday. That's an improvement from more than 100 who stayed home or left early due to illness Wednesday.

The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department thinks a norovirus is to blame for the illness that includes symptoms such as vomiting. Several teachers also were out sick, but some plan to return today, Cook said.

Cook said the sickness appears to be hitting the school's kindergarten through fifth grades the hardest. The school, which has about 310 students, also houses sixth graders in a largely separate wing.

Health Officer Bill Crawford expects to receive test results by early next week that will confirm the cause.

The school planned to send a note home to parents Thursday that included suggestions from the health department to avoid spreading a norovirus. Crawford said thorough and frequent hand washing with soap is key.

Those who fall ill should stay home until symptoms have been resolved for at least 24 hours. Sick people should not prepare food for 72 hours after symptoms end, and bathrooms should be disinfected, as well as oft-touched surfaces such as doorknobs, computer keyboards and remote controls.

Cleaning crews sanitized the school this week and were to conduct another sweep before school starts this morning, Cook said.

Platte River is among a number of local schools closed on Monday for teacher training.

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