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Santa Monica Malibu Schools Discontinue 'Optional Group Activities' as Virus Lingers  

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By Lookout Staff

February 15, 2017 -- Using "an abundance of caution," the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) has discontinued "optional group activities" at all schools to help further reduce the spread of a gastrointestinal illness, possibly due to the norovirus, officials announced Tuesday.

Optional activities include dances, field trips, camp trips and music rehearsals, officials said.

"This highly contagious illness does linger on a bit and we are working hard at our school sites to minimize exposure on campus," said a letter sent to parents Tuesday night by the District's Community & Public Relations Department.

"This is not a reflection of worsening conditions," the letter said. "Rather, we see the light at the end of the tunnel and would like to get back to normalcy, post virus."

The illness afflicted eighty students and ten teachers at John Adams Middle School (JAMS) after a field trip to Yosemite, forcing the closure of the school February 3 ("Possible Norovirus Still Present in Santa Monica-Malibu Schools," February 10, 2017).

Cases of the illness have since been detected during the past two weeks at other campuses including Santa Monica High School, District officials have said.

The latest precaution was the result of an advisory issued prior to the weekend by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH).

"We will be notified by LACDPH when to resume, based on a greatly reduced number of illnesses on our campuses," the letter said.

To help prevent the spread of the virus, District officials recommend that people wash their hands with soap, especially after using the bathroom and before eating.

Those showing symptoms of the virus -- nausea, vomiting or diarrhea -- should stay home for an additional 48 hours after those symptoms go away. They also should drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.

"Our top priority is the health and safety of all students and we will continue to keep you informed of this situation," District officials said.

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