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Norovirus identified as illness that caused Olathe elementary school closure in late October

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Posted at 8:36 AM, Nov 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 14:31:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Johnson County Department of Health and Environment has identified norovirus as the illness that closed Clearwater Elementary School in Olathe last week.

The health department said that norovirus is very common and contagious. It causes symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea.

"The cause was not identified," a health-department spokesperson said. "This type of virus is extremely contagious and difficult to pinpoint the starting point."

The Kansas Department of Agriculture held a foodborne illness outbreak inspection at the school on Monday, according to KDA Director of Communications Heather Lansdowne. The visit also included an environmental assessment.

"Neither of those reports found any issues concerning food safety; the school was in compliance," Lansdowne said in a statement.

Olathe Public Schools announced Oct. 26 that it was closing the elementary school due to an "exceedingly high” number of absences."

Principal Nate Kremer informed Clearwater Elementary School families that 150 students and staff members were absent due to sickness. In total, there are 541 students and 26 teachers at the school, which house students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

A spokesperson for the district described the illness as "GI symptoms" at the time.

After the school closed, custodial crews worked to deep clean and disinfect the building. The school's HVAC system was also adjusted to allow for increased fresh air.

The school reopened on Monday, Oct. 31.