RICHARDSON (CBS 11 NEWS) - A Norovirus outbreak may have sickened hundreds of students at Richardson High School.
Over the past four weekdays, the school has recorded 1337 absences. More than 600 students called in sick on Friday alone. Since Thursday, hundreds of kids have also left school early complaining of stomach issues. On Thursday, 70 went home early and on Friday 107 were sent home. On Monday, 48 students went home with the same complaint.
Dallas health officials are investigating what caused the outbreak. Tests confirm at least one student has tested positive for Norovirus, a very contagious virus spread through an infected person, touching contaminated surfaces, and consuming contaminated food or water.
The school has sent home a letter to parents (see below) explaining Norovirus, its symptoms, and duration, which is typically 1-3 days.
CBS 11 talked with parents and students, who have recovered from the virus. Their common symptoms were stomach aches, diarrhea and throwing up.
"As you can see, I'm kind of stopped up, but I had to come to school so I wouldn't miss(ed) too many days of classes and, you know, get too behind," said senior Cashay Kenneybrew.
"I think it's really bad because you get to miss stuff that you need to know for tests and stuff," said senior Daisy Calix, who missed two tests during the outbreak.
Parent Allison Mark said, "I think something needs to be done, but I don't know if anything can be, because it's a virus and it's got to run its course. But I don't know if they need to clean up the school more or what they need to do."
Cleaning crews have been giving Richardson High an extensive scrubbing every night. High touch and high traffic areas like drinking fountains, door handles, and bathrooms are being cleaned up to seven times a day. Absences dropped to less than 250 on Monday, which is still about 150 absences higher than normal for this time of year. On Tuesday, 214 student called in sick. The county health department credits Richardson ISD's aggressive action of deep cleaning for the reduced number of absences today and yesterday.
Health department officials say they cannot confirm if Norovirus is what made everyone sick until they get more test results.
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