School closes for cleaning after one-third of students call in sick

HAMMOND – Children at one Hammond school are getting three-day weekend, but many of them will be in bed for most of it.

That’s because Hammond Westside Montessori had to close when more than a third of the student body, and some on the faculty and staff, got sick.

Everyone in the Lindsey family feels just awful. Kindergartener, Kayden, eighth-grader Laila, and one-year-old, Chayse.

“This one and that one, I’ve had to been take them to the doctor at least three times in the last two weeks. He’s been throwing up since yesterday,” mother Karen Lindsey said pointing to her three children.

They have been passing around what appears to be respiratory infections and a stomach bug.

“My throat and stuff is hurting, and my stomach hurting. My throat hurting and I got a bad cough,” said Laila Lindsey.

Laila is not alone. Hammond Westside Montessori had to close Thursday after school officials said 350 students out of 1,100 were at home sick.

“Tuesday when I went, they had like the nurses office had a whole bunch of kids. They sent the people that was sick, with a orange paper and a doctor’s appointment, home,” said Laila.

Several teachers and the entire custodial staff were sick too. Friday, a private cleaning company was called in. The school system says they will spend at least 500 man hours at the school over the weekend, cleaning the building and buses, along with cleaning done by school system employees.

Parents were alerted by a note. The stomach virus that is suspected is the norovirus. Last month, when New Orleans children caught the same bug, LSU Health Sciences Center infectious disease expert, Dr. Fred Lopez, said it’s very common, and highly contagious.

“Just a few viral particles are needed to be ingested in order to cause infection. It can persist on surfaces. Hand hygiene isn’t always practiced as well as it could be among school-aged children,” said Dr. Lopez.

Now a busy mom of three, hopes they will be symptom-free for 24 hours, so they can go back to school on Monday.

“It is kind of hard and tiring. As you can, tell I look a mess,” said Karen.

To kill norovirus, hand washing is needed with hot water. Regular alcohol sanitizers don’t kill the virus. Bleach is needed on surfaces and hot water to kill it in laundry and the dishwasher. Of the 20 million cases a year in the U.S., up to 800 can die due to complications.



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