The Fairfax County Health Department confirmed that the norovirus caused a mass exodus of students from Terra Centre Elementary in mid-February. The outbreak prompted a massive cleanup at the school the weekend of Feb. 21-22.
"The norovirus was confirmed," said Kimberly Cordero of the Fairfax County Health Department.
The virus was suspected when several students were out sick with the same stomach-related symptoms> The Health Department contacted 60 families, and several stool samples were obtained on a voluntary basis.
"We had some parents do that so we can find out what we’re dealing with," Cordero said.
The samples were sent to a state lab, where the virus was detected.
"This is the procedure the Health Department has," said Fairfax County School spokesperson Paul Regnier.
Although the virus has been found lately on cruise ships and hotels, Cordero said it is common.
"It's seasonal," she said. "We usually see this in the winter. Wherever people are going to congregate, that's where they'll pick it up."
Carol Edgell, mother of Andrew, 9, was happy with the way it was handled by the county.
"We got a notice from the principal. We try and wash our hands anyways," she said.
"Only one person in my class was sick," Andrew said.
The cleaning at Terra Centre included carpet cleaners, as well as disinfectants on surfaces around the school, which was in accordance with Virginia Department of Health guidelines. Cordero also recommended extra measures be taken at home as well.
"We do advise that parents need to be cleaning at home," she said. "It's a hearty virus."