The Linn County Health Department has confirmed that norovirus is the cause of the illness that shut down Greater Albany Public Schools this week.
The department took samples from the district's buildings last week when students, teachers and staff first began exhibiting symptoms. (Last Friday, 100 people from Periwinkle Elementary School missed class due to the virus.) Results released Wednesday confirmed that the sickness was norovirus, an easily transmitted gastrointestinal illness. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, body aches, cough and runny or stuffed nose.
According to Assistant Superintendent Lisa Harlan, schools will be open on Monday.
Harlan said the district began cleaning the schools, buses and other surfaces students came in contact with under the assumption it was norovirus before the test results came back. Special equipment was borrowed from the Scio School District, and increased absences prompted a district-wide closure Tuesday.
The illness had far-reaching effects, closing programs in both the YMCA and Boys & Girls Club of Albany this week after children were sent home with the same symptoms.
The district still asks parents to keep children home from school until they have been fever-free and haven't vomited for 48 hours.
Other tips include:
• Wash hands — including between fingers — frequently with soap and warm water, washing for 15 to 20 seconds. Sing the ABCs slowly while scrubbing to ensure a thorough wash. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand sanitizer.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth to prevent the spread of germs.
• Limit close contact with sick people and cover your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or arm if you cough or sneeze.
• Clean and disinfect all surfaces that may have germs using bleach-based cleaners.