Virus sickens 200 students, faculty at Douglas Co. school - Atlanta News, Weather, Traffic, and Sports | FOX 5

Virus sickens 200 students, faculty at Douglas Co. school

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DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. -

A virus caused almost 200 students and teachers to be absent from a Douglas County elementary school on Thursday.

South Douglas Elementary School said they believe the virus, which caused nearly a third of its 600 students and faculty members to miss on Thursday, will pass in a couple of days and does not warrant closing the school.

Principal Casey Duffey said the amount of absences was unprecedented for the school.

"It has never happened. We've days where we've had virus and those kinds of things like every other normal elementary school, but not to this extent, no," said Duffey.

Health officials say the symptoms mirror that of a gastrointestinal infection, essentially a 2-3 day virus and one that say is highly contagious.

"There is not any one thing in common. It's throughout different grade levels. It's not pertaining to any one grade level. As far as the staff, it's spread out over office staff and teachers, so there is no one thing in common," said Duffey.

Duffey said school officials have increased the frequency of disinfecting, including that of restrooms using a bleach disinfectant. They are encouraging frequent hand washing and the use of hand sanitizers.

An environmental health specialist sent out by the health department handed out pamphlets and reviewed hand washing techniques with staff members, including the cafeteria staff as a precautionary measure.

While some parents have been weary of sending their children to school, others say viruses are a part of life in school and often cannot be helped.

"I think it's kind of the nature of kids and school, kids get sick, you know, kids are not always the most sanitary…and it's also the season for colds and flus and things like that," said parent Jennifer Archer.

Parents with sick children are being advised to keep their children at home at least 24 hours after their symptoms have disappeared as a precautionary measure.

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