Dear Parents and Guardians,
Pine Island Elementary School has been monitoring an increase of students and staff out ill with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms appear to be the result of acute gastroenteritis, often called stomach flu.
Symptoms of this intestinal infection generally include nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and/or diarrhea which can last one to two days. Stomach flu spreads when infected people, who may not even know they are infected, do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. The infection can then be transferred easily to food or surfaces where other people can pick it up. Symptoms occur 24-48 hours after contracting the intestinal infection, making it very contagious and can infect anyone.
Here are some tips to help prevent getting and spreading acute gastroenteritis at home and school:
- Hand washing is the number one way to protect yourself and others
- Always wash hands before handling food or ice, after using the toilet and before eating
- Avoid food handling duties if currently or recently ill
- Throw away foods that have been handled or prepared by someone who is or has recently had vomiting or diarrhea unless it will be thoroughly cooked before serving
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces immediately after an episode of vomiting or diarrhea by using a bleach-based household cleaner.
- Keep ill children away from school for 1 full day after symptoms resolve
We will be taking measures at school as well, including:
- Restricting the sharing of foods brought from student’s/staff’s homes
- Restricting students passing/sharing of any communal food items/snacks in the classrooms or elsewhere.Instead, the teacher will hand out items to be shared after washing his/her hands
- Temporarily stop using self-service foods for school breakfast/lunch (students will not serve themselves)
- Redoubling our efforts to promote handwashing prior to every snack or meal
These recommendations have been decided upon after consultation with Olmsted County Public Health Services and the Minnesota Department of Health.
For additional information regarding acute gastroenteritis:
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Olmsted County Public Health Services at 507-328-7500. You may also call the Minnesota Department of Health at 612-676-5414.
Thank you for your help in controlling this sudden onset of illness.