October 25, 2014

Medina
Partly sunny
65°F

Norovirus closes Brunswick schools closed for week

Loren Genson and David Knox

All 10 Brunswick city elementary and middle schools are closed today and for the remainder of the week to prevent the spread of norovirus.

Towslee Elementary was closed Friday after an outbreak of food poisoning earlier in the week that sickened 20 to 25 students and staff members.

Symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and usually last between 24 and 48 hours.

The Medina County Health Department said test identified the cause as norovirus, which is highly contagious and can be transmitted through close contact with infected people, contaminated food, water and hard surfaces.

School officials said last week the source wasn’t food from the school cafeteria but probably came from food brought in by students for Teacher Appreciation Week.

“We believe it started with a luncheon provided by the PTO during teacher appreciation week,” Superintendent Michael Mayell said on Friday. “It has not been confirmed, but all indications point to that being the start.”

Mayell said the decision to close all the elementary and middle schools came on Monday after about 30 more students were out sick.

“We had many more students showing symptoms at the elementary and middle school levels,” he said.

The decision to close the district’s three middle schools and seven elementary schools was announced late Monday afternoon in phone messages sent to parents and on the Brunswick Schools’ Facebook page:

“In order to stay cautious and put the health of our students first, and after consultation with the Medina Co. Board of Health, we have decided to close all Elementary and Middle schools in the BCSD for the remainder of the week.”

The posting added that, “Brunswick High School will remain open during this time, as it has not experienced drops in attendance.”

An eighth-grade field trip to Washington, D.C., also was canceled. It will be rescheduled for next school year.

“We understand that this may be disappointing to some of our students, but feel this is the best decision for the health and safety everyone in the district,” the Facebook post read.

Classes were expected to resume next Tuesday — the day after the Memorial Day holiday.

The decision to keep the high school open was criticized by several parents in comments on the Facebook page.

“While High School kids don’t have it now, with siblings going to be home all week, more high school kids are bound to get it,” Billie Zahorodnij wrote.

Tracey Strzala-Necak agreed: “Close the high school. Obviously. I have one child in each level. Not taking the chance of highschooler going to school, contracting the virus and bringing it home.”

Mayell said the decision to keep the high school open was justified because there were no reported cases there on Monday.

But he added, “If that situation changes we’ll go ahead and reconsider.”

Gazette reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer contributed to this report.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4049 and lgenson@medina-gazette.com and David Knox at (330) 721-4065 or dknox@medina-gazette.com.