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RICHARDSON HIGH SCHOOL

...OVER 100 YEARS OF TRADITION. A NATIONAL BEST PRACTICES HIGH SCHOOL

February 4, 2014 Richardson High School Parents and Staff, I wanted to update you on the gastrointestinal (GI) illness situation here at school. We are tracking the impact of the illness primarily through daily student absences and the number of students complaining of GI-related symptoms, such as stomachache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea during the school day. On a normal winter day, we have between 95-105 students absent and send home another 10 for various illnesses. Last Thursday, 282 students were absent or sent home. On Friday, the number peaked at 602 students absent or sent home, and yesterday it was down to 239. RISD and RHS continue to work with the Dallas County Health Department (DCHD) related to precautions. The DCHD has now indicated that their preliminary laboratory results support their suspicions that the illness may have been caused by a virus called norovirus. Norovirus is the most common cause of acute gastrointestinal illness in the United States, and is known for being contagious. While it can cause severe GI-related symptoms such as stomach aches, nausea, diarrhea and/or vomiting, it is not generally considered as serious an illness as influenza and usually resolves on its own within 1-3 days. The health departments confirmation that our illnesses are likely being caused by norovirus does not change the actions that the school has been taking or the recommendations to parents and students. As a reminder, RHS is being thoroughly cleaned with anti-viral cleaning solutions each evening, and many areas of the school, including high touch and high traffic areas such as bathrooms, door handles and drinking fountains, are being cleaned 6-7 times during each day. We continue to strongly recommend that students and staff wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after being in a bathroom and before eating. Frequent use of hand sanitizer is also encouraged throughout the day. If your student becomes ill with a stomach ache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea, do not send them to school and please keep them home for 24 hours after their symptoms go away. As with influenza and other illnesses, students with underlying health conditions are more likely to develop severe symptoms if they become ill, so its especially important for them to adhere to the handwashing and exclusion precautions. The Dallas County Health Department has confirmed that we are doing exactly what we should be doing and DCHD has not recommended any additional steps at this time. DCHD has indicated that norovirus outbreaks can be challenging to control because spread can occur person to person and through contaminated surfaces. Thank you for your continued cooperation in keeping our students and staff safe and healthy. Sincerely, Charles Bruner, Principal Richardson High School

1250 Beltline Road

Richardson, TX 75080

(469) 593-3000

FAX (469) 593-3006