Virus outbreak affects Ravenna's Willyard Elementary School

Health department suspects norovirus outbreak

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

Willyard Elementary School in Ravenna Township underwent a deep cleaning after a suspected virus outbreak resulted in a higher number of absences than usual.

Superintendent Dennis Honkala of the Ravenna School District said the school was not closed as a result of the outbreak, but parents were alerted of the illness by a phone message stating that they would be able to keep their children at home if they believed it was necessary.

Honkala said absences were "above average" in recent days. The school contacted the Portage County Health Department and the Ravenna Health Department, which suspected an outbreak of norovirus, previously known as stomach flu. The highly contagious virus is not related to influenza, and flu shots will not prevent the virus.

The health departments advised the school on the proper cleaning solutions to use for a deep cleaning of the school. The cleaning was done on Thursday and Friday nights, but the school was open on Friday.

He said parents were alerted by the district's phone message system, Alert Now, advising them about the outbreak and letting them know the school would be open on Friday, the last day before the district's spring break.

Students who went to school on Friday were sent home with a letter from Dr. Daniel Raub, medical director for the Portage County Health Department, advising them about the symptoms of the virus and offering tips to keep the virus from spreading.

The letter stated that people who are exposed usually have symptoms 12 to 48 hours after exposure, and that most people will be better between one and three days.

Raub suggested hand washing, disinfecting contaminated surfaces, and drinking plenty of fluids during the illness.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

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