The Long Beach Health Department is investigating a norovirus outbreak at Carver Elementary School after students and staff began feeling symptoms of the illness in late February.

Since Feb. 22, there have been 137 norovirus cases reported by students or staff at Carver Elementary School, according to Long Beach Unified School District spokesperson Chris Eftychiou. The school, which is located in East Long Beach, currently has more than 500 students and roughly 60 staff members, Eftychiou said.

A memo sent out to the parents earlier this month by Principal Monica Manipon explained that the school was working with the city’s Health Department after a number of students and staff reported being sick with the norovirus, which has similar symptoms to the stomach flu.

By March 9, the elementary school was experiencing a high number of absences due to the outbreak, according to a letter by Manipon.

The source of the outbreak was not immediately clear. Although people can become infected with norovirus in a number of ways, it is typically by eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated liquids, touching contaminated surfaces or having direct contact with someone else who is showing symptoms.

Symptoms, which can include vomiting and diarrhea, usually start to show within 24 to 48 hours of being exposed to the virus.

Last week, school officials at Carver Elementary School began enforcing additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus, such as canceling or postponing all group events, including field trips, preventing students from mingling during their breaks, closing down playground apparatuses and conducting wellness checks before anyone enters the campus or classroom.

“I understand that these requirements will cause most of us to feel an array of emotions,” Manipon said in the letter. “I am working diligently with my faculty and staff to provide students with: alternative options for play at recess and lunch, attempting to reschedule field trips and have ordered water bottles and portable hand washing stations.”

As of Wednesday, the number of reported cases appears to be declining, Eftychiou said, with 13 staff or student cases reported yesterday, and eight reported today.

School officials continue to ask any student or staff experiencing any symptoms of gastrointestinal illness to remain home until showing no symptoms for at least 48 hours.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the relationship between the norovirus and the stomach flu.

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