SMMUSD: Why Hasn't Stairway to the Stars been Cancelled due to Norovirus?
"Two weeks ago we had 14 students go home sick in one week and last week it was 22 students"
March 19, 2017
Last night was the first of three Stairway of the Stars concerts, this one featuring Orchestra. Nearly 1,000 students from all schools in Malibu and Santa Monica participate combined. The Guest Conductor and Stairway Award Recipient for Orchestra was Mark Barnard.
Most other SMMUSD extracurricular events have been cancelled due to Norovirus, which first appeared in John Adams middle school over Christmas break. The district has been struggling with Norovirus ever since. Why did Stairway proceed?
"The district made the decision that the concerts are an essential educational activity, therefore were not cancelled," wrote SMMUSD Spokesman Gail Pinsker.
"Strict precautions were put in place for each rehearsal and now for the concert that includes: cleaning of the room / venue before and after each activity, screening each student musician before entering the room for symptoms by school nurses and frequent hand washing and sanitizing. (The screening involves the nurses asking each student each time if they have had vomiting, diarrhea, nausea or fever in the past 48 hours.)
Several of our schools in Santa Monica and Malibu are now cleared to resume activities as each school is considered individually.
Unfortunately, Samohi is not there yet, however, our guard is still up and precautions as outlined by DPH are still in effect there and several other schools, including JAMS and Lincoln, plus a few elementary schools.
We need parents to keep sick kids home for 48 hours after last symptoms and we all need to continue to take hand washing precautions, while our maintenance crews work on cleaning high touch surface areas daily, until this illness is within baseline at all our campuses.
There are also signs and hand sanitizers in the foyer of Barnum Hall for guests, too. I was at Stairway last night, and I'd guess there were six-eight sanitizer bottles for use, to further support our initiative to minimize exposure to this highly contagious illness.
Gail Pinsker, SMMUSD Spokesman
This just in from SamoHi Principal Antonio Shelton.
3/16: A message from SANTA MONICA HIGH SCHOOL
Samohi is continuing to experience new cases of gastrointestinal illness, norovirus, almost daily. We can't let our guard down and need to continue bringing our numbers down by taking hand washing and sanitizing precautions and continuing to cancel or postpone non-essential activities. Please, if your child is sick, keep them home for 48 hours after the last symptoms.
Superintendent Dr. Ben Drati, district staff, and medical doctors from the LA County Department of Public Health (LACDPH), spoke about the district and school response to the norovirus outbreak at a parent and staff meeting held on Feb. 28th. All schools, including our school, has been directed to take strict precautions to eradicate this virus, which includes hand washing/sanitizing, increased cleaning, and exclusion of those who are presenting symptoms.
Our school has been asked to continue with these precautions until we reach our baseline range and to prevent a resurgence. Each school is being monitored individually and we will be able to resume activities when our own level of new cases of this illness is within what is typical for our school, referred to as baseline.
Activities are considered on a case by case basis, and sometimes at the last minute. We don't want to cancel anything, but in order to eradicate this illness, we need to take this seriously so it stops impacting our site. We understand the disappointment of cancelling some important field trips and activities, but in order for us to return to "normal," we need to take this action.
Data shows that last year, between August – January, we sent home an average of 0-15 students per week with gastrointestinal illnesses. Two weeks ago we had 14 students go home sick in one week and last week it was 22 students. We are still above baseline and need to continue working toward getting within our baseline range. We need to stay in that range for six days before resuming activities, per the LACDPH. Following this, LADPH will monitor our school for two more weeks.
We appreciate parent and staff support with the measures we are taking and all you are doing at home to help prevent the spread. We want all of our students, parents and staff to be healthy and not have to worry about this highly contagious, very uncomfortable, illness.
Additional information from CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/norovirus/preventing-infection.html
Dr. Antonio Shelton, Principal