Eastern Shore school closes early because of sick students

Occohannock Elementary (Photo credit: Walter Hildebrand)

CAPE CHARLES, Va. (WAVY) – Occohannock Elementary School on Virginia’s Eastern Shore closed early Friday because of a high number of sick children. Dr. David Matson, director of the Eastern Shore Health District, confirmed the cases were an outbreak of the flu.

School spokesperson Pam Lilliston told WAVY.com a large number of students at the school exhibited flu-like symptoms, so they sent students home at 1 p.m.

The elementary school is in Exmore and is part of the Northampton County Public Schools system.

Many of the sick kids went to Franktown Community Health Center, where employees were wearing protective masks Friday. Nancy Stern, CEO of Eastern Shore Rural Health, said the number of cases was unprecedented.

“We have had an enormous increase of kids come into this center, as well as our other centers … We’ve had probably confirmed about 30 cases so far,” Stern said.

Blair Chick, the Chief Medical Officer for the health center, said the cases were Influenza Type A and a few cases of Type B.

“Most of the symptoms we’ve been seeing are high fevers, some runny nose, cough, and sore throat,” Chick said.

Northampton County Public Schools sent letters to parents, saying students with sore throats who go home sick cannot return without a signed doctor’s note. Students with coughs would get a mask and a call to their parents to pick them up, the letter said.

According to the Eastern Shore Health District, this strain of the flu is very contagious and can infect a person in a matter of minutes.The agency encouraged people to wash hands, stay home when sick, and get a flu vaccine.

Occohannock Elementary is expected to be open on Monday.


A viewer sent WAVY.com a copy of the letter sent home to parents.
A viewer sent WAVY.com a copy of the letter sent home to parents.

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