Metro School closed Friday after 70 students complain of norovirus symptoms

Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia.
Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia.

Classes at Metro School uptown were canceled for Friday after dozens of students complained of symptoms of norovirus, a highly contagious infectious virus.

Thursday, 63 students stayed home and another seven were sent home from Metro, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools facility for students with severe disabilities, said Mecklenburg County Health Director Marcus Plescia. That’s nearly a third of Metro’s 258 students.

The school’s website said Metro would be closed Friday for students and teachers.

Meanwhile, Wingate University officials in Union County reported Thursday several dozen of its students had gone to the school’s health center complaining of norovirus symptoms: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramping.

The school tested students to confirm the outbreak is norovirus and likely won’t have results until Friday afternoon. Officials said campus workers were cleaning bathrooms and the campus dining hall.

Norovirus is foodborne, and those infected are contagious once they feel sick until at least three days after they recover, typically within three to four days. It is easily transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or eating or drinking contaminated foods or liquids.

“This is a fairly common outbreak, particularly at schools and long-term care facilities. We see it quite a bit, especially this time of year,” Plescia said. “It is extremely infectious. Once you’ve got one case, you tend to see it spread very quickly.”

CMS has consulted with the health department on the cleanup and the proper cleaning supplies to use. CMS brought in a private contractor to clean the school Wednesday, but after more students complained of symptoms on Thursday, another thorough cleanup of the school and buses was needed.

Plescia encouraged those with symptoms to stay home and parents to look for signs of dehydration in children with norovirus symptoms.

“This is another opportunity to tell people that it’s a good thing to always wash your hands,” he said. “It is a very effective way to keep from getting any kind of infectious disease.”

Perlmutt: 704-358-5061; @dperlmutt