Schools hit by norovirus reopen

Kyodo

Fourteen elementary schools in Hamamatsu reopened Wednesday morning, about a week after they were closed because some 1,000 children and teachers developed symptoms of food poisoning from norovirus-tainted bread.

The board of education in the Shizuoka Prefecture city announced at noon that one school still closed Wednesday would resume classes Thursday.

Pupils began arriving at Sekishi Elementary School in Higashi Ward at around 7:30 a.m. Under instructions from officials, nearly all of the children were wearing face masks.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my friends,” sixth-grader Yuna Ichikawa, 12, said with a smile.

Principal Yoko Kawai, meanwhile, expressed her relief seeing the children return to school. The school checked that the students were healthy and showed a DVD instructing them how to properly wash their hands to prevent infection.

The city’s board of education began closing elementary schools on Jan. 16 because of an outbreak of food poisoning caused by norovirus. On Jan. 14, some pupils suffered vomiting and diarrhea after consuming bread delivered to schools by Hamamatsu-based bread-maker Hofuku. By Jan. 16, a total of 905 pupils in the city’s elementary schools were absent.

The board conducted a detailed health study at Nakanomachi Elementary School in Higashi Ward, where 96 out of 376 pupils were absent on Jan. 16.