Washoe County School District is reaching out to parents before school starts back up, hoping to prevent further spread of the norovirus outbreak that hit the district in the fall.
WCSD took advantage of the winter break by sterilizing all of the schools in the district. Officials said they have never seen an outbreak like this one before.
"We had a norovirus outbreak during summer school a few years ago," WCSD Student Health Services Director Dana Balchunas said, "but never during the school year when it has spread from school to school pretty extensively."
Over the last few weeks the 19 elementary schools that had outbreaks got an intensive cleaning with a special antiviral solution, and every other school at every level was disinfected with bleach. They pulled out carpets, cleaned all hard surfaces, and even cleaned the walls six feet up.
The health district reports over 1,000 cases of the virus so far. It affects the digestive system, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration, and it is very contagious.
"We are asking parents to do their part," Balchunas said, "teaching their child hand-washing, and definitely keeping sick kids home on January 7 when school opens, so that our buildings are not re-contaminated."
The school district is asking parents to keep their kids home for 72 hours after the symptoms stop. Balchunas said people are still contagious even after they feel fine. The schools and teachers have agreed to accommodate kids who miss class due to the virus.