Health Department Confirms Stomach Bug Cases at Barnum Woods

The investigation is ongoing, according to Nassau County Department of Health officials.

The Nassau County Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed they are investigating a stomach bug that has been reported at in East Meadow.

“Right now, we are investigating a gastrointestinal illness at Barnum Woods Elementary School,” Mary Ellen Laurain, a spokeswoman from the DOH, said. “This is an ongoing investigation. We’ve sent recommendations for containing and preventing the spread of illness to the school.”

On Friday morning, Kristina Hollywood, who runs the parent email-based group “Mommy’s Time Out,” distributed an email concerning a significant amount of absences from Barnum Woods Thursday.

From the email:

“Apparently, Barnum Woods had nearly 100 students out with it yesterday! At the moment, Parkway has a few cases and I know of numerous families who had their bout with it three weeks ago.”

Shelley Lotenberg, a spokeswoman for , told Patch that the hospital, has confirmed that an East Meadow elementary schools have seen an increase in absences due to a Norovirus-like illness.

“I checked in the pediatric section of the emergency department and we have had an increase in patients seen, but I’m not sure if it can be attributed specifically to [East Meadow] or whether it is the time of the year for flu, colds, coughs, intestinal viruses, etc,” Lotenberg told Patch.

Several parents have also commented on the East Meadow Patch Facebook page that their children have been affected.

“Often times, you will see a Noro-type virus this time of the year, but right now, we haven’t pinpointed what it is,” Laurain said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Noroviruses are a group of related, single-stranded RNA, non-enveloped viruses that cause acute gastroenteritis in humans. The most common symptoms of acute gastroenteritis are diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain.

The East Meadow School District did not respond to requests for comment.

This is a breaking news story, and Patch will provide more information as it's made available.

Jenn March 10, 2012 at 02:37 PM
RFL was talking to Susan referencing a post she made to you in Jan. Go back 3 posts before yours and you'll see it.
paul March 10, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I love it when my name is mentioned........ Jenn - you can use it anytime.... ;o)
Susan March 10, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I don't think we know each other but when you posted your first comment, you used your full name. It was emailed to me via the Patch. I guess you then decided to change it and use your initials instead so you may have deleted the first comment and reposted as RL. I received that email too. Same exact comment. Are you also RFL or is that just a coincidence? Btw, I wasn't really defending the schools exactly. People are just so quick to lay blame. Having been through this with my own kids and having known the protocol, I hated to see the top administration being admonished for something that may not have been their fault. I do believe that once the school realized the number of students and teachers that were out on Thursday, the ConnectEd calls should have started. Maybe they didn't want to create a panic and they really can't tell people to keep their kids home. If one kid had chicken pox they used to send a letter home. I think the severity of this took everyone by surprise. I just hope everyone feels better fast.
Michael Ganci (Editor) March 10, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Everyone, please keep it civil. Thanks. -Mike
lg March 10, 2012 at 04:45 PM
this is getting funny. my kids unfortunately go to barnum woods and if a kid goes to school and has pink eye letters are sent out to the kids class THE SAME DAY. if there was a large amount of kids out sick on wednesday an automated call should have gone out to let parents know it was being looked into. they call for every other little thing from that school so why not for something important like this? amazing how fast the phone rings when they want my oney for some bs or another!
Jon L. March 10, 2012 at 06:23 PM
LG hit the nail on the head, IN MY OPINION, the District dropped the ball twice. It appears from what I have read and whom I have spoken to that the District did not meet obligations under § 906 of the Education Law. It is also my OPINION like LG that the District should have used the ConnectEd system to notify parents to be extra vigilant about hand washing and keeping sick kids at home. As many people here know I addressed my concerns to the Trustees and the Superintendent about developing an acceptable use policy of the ConnectEd system at the October Community Information Session based on an incident that occurred in a neighboring district. I was blown off by the Trustees and Mr. DeAngelo (shocking, I know). This is just another reason that the district should develop guidelines for use of the system.
lg March 11, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Jon there is so much bs at barnum i cannot wait until june when my last child is out of there. not only were there so many kids sick but the staff was missing a bunch of teachers too because of this virus. this information should have gone out as soon as the phones in the nurses office started lighting up. then again, i have had some run-ins with the nurse there too and i dont have too many nice things to say. this should have been handled on wednesday, not late thursday and friday. now i will keep my son home until the school can say there are no more cases of this virus. im sure they will not be too happy about that but i dont care.
SimonCarr March 11, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Will the lost week be represented in the teachers Annual Performance Review? What does Mr. Principal want in the planbook for the week?
Jon L. March 11, 2012 at 03:00 AM
The other part that does not make sense is calling extra custodial staff in to disinfect and not telling the parents to be extra careful not to send sick kids to school thus, reinfecting the building. Use of ConnectEd would have mede sense in my OPINION. But what do I know?
Brent M. March 12, 2012 at 01:56 AM
I say if the Board of Ed has issues with the Patch... Oh well... Too bad... There is no difference between the patch & any other editorial page in any newspaper where people write in and give their respective opinions!!!
Jon L. March 12, 2012 at 02:13 AM
Too bad for them Timmy, living in a country with free speech and a free press means that the do nothing trustees and the good for nothing Superintendent are going to be insulted once in a while. They can't censor the public like they censor dissenting opion on the Board as has been done since the Saracino administration. (Edit for clarity not content)
Susan March 12, 2012 at 02:27 AM
FYI, just for the record and before there is more anger or arguing, the issue with the School District had to do with the content of an article (the supposed "facts"), and had nothing to do with any of the comments. Neither the School District nor the BOE ever tried to censor the comments on the Patch as far as I know. (I haven't a clue if they ever tried to censor the EM Patch itself). That being said, it doesn't mean that someone can't sue a person for making blatantly libelous remarks. It's just a good idea to have the facts before one judges or places blame. I'm speaking in general terms and not about anything specific. So are everyone's children feeling better? Are they going back to school tomorrow?
Jon L. March 12, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Susan, the School District can take issue with whatever it wants but, thanks again for 'representing' what the School District has issues with. The Trustees and Superintendent routinely censor dissenting opinion on the Board. They can't censor the Patch as it would be unconstitutional. Without getting into a long drawn out thing, from the information that I have been able to gather from sources outside of the Patch and the School District it is my opinion that the way that the Trustees and the Superintendent handled this situation is just a continuation of over 25 years of mismanagement. SInce you are a practicing armchair attorney let me take it a step further, my "opinion" is covered as free speech without malice and is based on information gathered for other sources. The School District and their Trustees are welcome to take action calling it libelous but since they are a public body I doubt it would pass the New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, (376 U.S. 254; 1964) test of "actual malice" that a public official would need to show for a defamation or libel suit. They would be more than welcome to spend some more money on expensive outside counsel at Gurcio and Gurcio or some similar firm but without representation I would expect summary judgement citing Times v. Sullivan before the case would even be assigned to the civil part.
Susan March 12, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I was just clarifying AND I specifically said I was speaking generally and using the past tense. It was something that happened a year ago. Why do you feel the need to constantly argue with every statement made here? Seems you're the one quoting the law here, not me.
Jon L. March 12, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Susan, were you or were you not the one who said " It's just a good idea to have the facts before one judges..."? I was presenting facts about your statement about libelous remarks as it was germane to the discussion here about the Board of Education as a whole, the trustees individually and the Superintendent. I don't argue with every statement here, in fact before you chimed in I was agreeing with Timmy B. I just disagree with you (and sometimes Paul), that's it. My quote of the Supreme Court decision was to counter your statement, "That being said, it doesn't mean that someone can't sue a person for making blatantly libelous remarks." You have said that you have no connection to the Board or the Trustees but you seem to have some knowledge of, "... the issue with the School District had..." Since the Board and the Superintendent have not made any public comment on this (as far as I can find) you must be connected in some fashion as you appear to do their bidding here on the Patch. Or did you speak without knowing for a fact what they take issue with?
Jenn March 12, 2012 at 03:15 AM
In RE of libel: As a practical matter, only statements of fact are actionable. It is uncommon and almost impossible for someone to be held liable for expressing an opinion. Thus, if calling someone a "ineffective or clueless" is merely name-calling or an expression of an opinion, it is unlikely that the person who made the remark could be successfully sued for defamation. On the other hand, if calling someone a "mother f***r" is intended to state a fact that the object of the remark had sexual relations with his mother, that remark may indeed be actionable. Furthermore, in the US, a public figure must show that the statement was made with actual malice or in reckless disregard of the truth. Jon L. - I wouldn't be hiring a lawyer to defend yourself just yet ;)
Jon L. March 12, 2012 at 03:17 AM
I'm sorry I lied there, I also disagree with Bill Alderman once in a while too, my bad. I like to present all the facts when they are available. (sorry to Bill and Paul for using you to make my point but I was just being honest)
Susan March 12, 2012 at 03:53 AM
I really don't have a connection to the School Board. I admit I used to attend meetings but haven't in a long time. I just happened to be privy to what happened a year ago because I knew all the parties involved and I do know all the facts. Without divulging anything I shouldn't ... someone lied through their teeth about an incident that supposedly happened at the HS (it never happened) in an interview in the Patch. The top administration took issue with the Patch for not double checking the "facts". In this instance they were right to do so. I happen to agree with you on a lot of what you said about the BOE in general. I have seen plenty of what you have written about over the years. I've seen people speak passionately at communications meetings and get ignored by the Board. That seems to be commonplace and it is very unfortunate. They seem to have the "we'll get back to you on that" routine down pat. But I do try to keep in mind that the trustees on the Board are just volunteers. They do not get paid and they do, for the most part, have the students best interests in heart. There have, of course, been exceptions and I have witnessed that as well. So Jon L., can we call a truce here? I'll try to attend the next Board of Ed meeting on March 29th. I'm very curious to hear how they explain this virus situation at Barnum. Btw, one of the HS teachers told me to stay away from that building for the same reason so I guess it's not just a Barnum problem.
Michael Ganci (Editor) March 12, 2012 at 01:48 PM
How do you think this situation should have been handled by the East Meadow School District. Share your opinions and vote in today's poll here. http://eastmeadow.patch.com/articles/how-should-school-officials-have-handled-the-stomach-virus-outbreak
paul March 12, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I have read all the comments... Question: If your child gets sick what do you do? Answer: Take them to the doctor. CORRECT Question: You have heard that some children as well as adults have gotten ill at the school possibly by something or someone at the school. Does the answer change? NO Why do you feel you need a personal invitation that says "We at the school district have had an outbreak of such and such" You found out didn't you? YES Did you address it as a parent or legal guardian? Probably. You have to many expectations in life. You found out about the issue regardless of an electronic notification.. Yes or No?? YES The school made the proper notifications as they were required and took the necessary steps involved. It is now up to you the parent or legal guardian to take steps you deem appropriate for the health and wellness of the person who has gotten ill. People get all type of sicknesses from different surroundings. Looking to blame the school district on how you were notified is utterly ridiculous.
Jon L. March 12, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Susan, I'm sorry I misinterpreted what you were saying. I read you post and they I sounded to me was that you had information that was specific to this situation. Apologies for not understanding what you were trying to get across.
Jon L. March 12, 2012 at 03:58 PM
Paul, I disagree. The school district does have some responsibility/culpability here. It is clearly outlined in my prior post about notifying public health officials about a reportable communicable disease. My point as far as the expensive ConnectEd system is, they pay for it, why not use it for more than the PTA meeting or the Project ACCESS speaker about this or that. When I asked the Board if there was an acceptable use policy for the system I was told by the Superintendent that no such policy exists and that he has final say on anything that goes out. So if the buck stops with him why not hole him accountable for not using the system? Again the world is in balance again, Paul and I disagree on something after we both made good points supporting our arguments. Hoary for pluralism in a democratic society!
Susan March 12, 2012 at 04:01 PM
Thank you Jon L. I really appreciate that. As you can see I was really trying to look out for you and the Patch. I have to learn to control myself from trying to be the 'watchdog'. I guess it's the mother in me. We worry. If we meet at the School Board meeting I can tell you more. I hope the editor isn't upset that I wrote about what happened. Mike, feel free to delete my commentabout it if you'd like. Have a good day. :)
paul March 12, 2012 at 04:02 PM
To Jon L: Thank you ;o) and No Thank you ;o( I did state that: The school made the proper notifications as they were required and took the necessary steps involved. I was referring to the health officials..... Do we agree 100 percent again??????
Susan March 12, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Jon L... question (I'm asking, not arguing .. lol). ... Does a stomach virus qualify as a "communicable disease"? I think they have meant something really classified as a disease like chicken pox or whooping cough. Does it include viruses such as this one?? Of course, that doesn't preclude the fact that once the school knew it was been made immediately. Maybe not on Wednesday since they may not have known what they were dealing with yet, but definitely on Thursday. To Paul ... I really don't know too many people who go running to the doctor when their child have a stomach virus unless they have a high fever or may become dehydrated. My pediatrician would have told me to please NOT bring them to the office. And please don't tell me I had 'bad' doctors. The group we used was top notch!!
Susan March 12, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Something disappeared.... It should have said .. that once the school knew it was being disinfected on Thursday night, those ConnectEd calls should have been made immediately. (A whole line disappeared... sorry. Now it makes sense.)
Jon L. March 12, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Susan, my contact at the State Health Department indicated that Norovirus (the suspected pathogen here) is considered reportable in closed quarter situations. It i left to interpretation if the School is considered as such. It was really meant to apply to Cruise Ships and was only added to the list of reportable diseases when the outbreak happened a few years ago on some of the Florida ships.
cb March 13, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Jon L. March 13, 2012 at 12:58 AM
How about typing in caps some more? The way the food staff and food was handled was about the only thing that made sense from a Public Helath standpoint.
Susan March 13, 2012 at 02:04 AM
Actually the other thing that Charles said that made sense was that those sick kids should have been kept home. Plain and simple. I mentioned that very early on. Parents send their sick children to school because it's inconvenient to stay home with them and that's the real shame here. Jon, thank you for answering my question. I do remember hearing about the outbreaks of norovirus on cruise ships. I guess we'll hear what the NC Dept. of Health has to say soon enough. :)


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