Families urged to keep sick kids home longer after stomach virus breaks out in schools

The Chesterfield Health Department is asking families to give kids more time to recover from illnesses, even once symptoms are gone.
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 7:04 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In Chesterfield, Crestwood Elementary says more and more children are showing up to school with a stomach bug. Now health experts are stepping in, asking families to keep their kids home for an extra 48 hours, even after symptoms subside.

According to a letter from the Chesterfield Health Department, they are unsure if these cases are norovirus, a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, or some other gastrointestinal illness. Still, they are emphasizing how quickly the virus is spreading.

“Children can easily get the virus by touching common surfaces or coming in contact with someone infected and not washing their hands before touching their face,” said Tiffany Kimbrough, a pediatrician at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

This isn’t the first school division to see an increase in this kind of sickness. Just a few weeks ago, two schools in Petersburg had 50 students out with what health officials believed was norovirus.

“Large amounts of folks all getting sick at the same time can overwhelm our healthcare systems,” said Kimbrough.

The Chesterfield Health Department says this kind of illness can affect a child anywhere between 3 to 12 days. But health officials say instead of sending your child back to school as soon as the symptoms end, the recommendation is to keep them home for an additional two days.

Health officials say along with diarrhea and vomiting, some other symptoms to look out for are stomach cramping, low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches or headaches.

Doctors say hand washing will not only stop the spread but can also help prevent it.