HAZLETON — About one third of the students who attend and elementary school in the Hazleton Area School District stayed home on Tuesday.
Many are sick with a virus and others are worried about getting sick.
The absentee list increased by about 100 names on Tuesday and the district believes a norovirus is to blame.
The Koster family lives near Hazleton and has children who attend the Valley Elementary School. A virus was inadvertently brought home from the school, and now five members of the family have the bug.
“Nausea, diarrhea, haven’t vomited yet but it’s like a bad case of food poisoning,” said Ed Koster.
“That’s not a good thing. It may be more serious than they believe it may be,” said Wendy Koster.
About 200 students were out on Monday. That has jumped to almost 300, about one third of the student population.
School officials caution that many of those absent are kids who are healthy but their parents don’t want them exposed to the highly contagious virus.
School officials say they are taking cues from the state department of health.
“We are following the proper protocol. We’re sanitizing each and every day, paying particular attention to lavatory, cafeteria, common instructional areas,” explained Hazleton Area Superintendent Frank Antonelli.
Another step school officials promise to do is sanitize all the buses.
Some parents who are taking their sick children out of school will be asked to help track down the strain of the virus.
“They can give us a sample, either way with their vomiting or their stool sample and it will be sent to the state lab and it will be given and give us exactly what type of norovirus this is,” said director of nursing Ellen McBride.
School officials ask that virus victims wait 24 hours after they feel better before returning to class. To do otherwise could help spread the virus to others.