Students and staff at Orchard Park Middle School will have an unplanned three-day weekend.
The school will be closed Friday because a large number of students and staff are experiencing flu-like symptoms. All school activities will also be canceled through Sunday.
Officials at the Erie County Health Department say that based on the symptoms reported by parents, students and staff, it appears this may be a Norovirus outbreak.
Norovirus mimics the flue in that it causes nausea, vomiting, low-grade fever, muscle aches and weakness, and abdominal pain, among other symptoms, which begin to appear 12- to 48-hours after exposure. The virus is transmitted by fecally contaminated food or water and can spread rapidly through person-to-person contact and contaminated surfaces.
The district says a more than 200 students and around a dozen staff members were absent Thursday. Several other students went home sick.
Staff members will use the long weekend to disinfect the building before it reopens on Monday. School buses will also be thoroughly cleaned.
7th grader Marius Nesterenko was one of the students who missed school Wednesday because of the virus.
"I was throwing up all night, I didn't get any sleep," he said. "I would be sweating then freezing. I had headaches and I was dizzy. It was terrible."
All other buildings in the Orchard Park School District will remain open. The district plans to disinfect all the busses as well.
School officials say if your student in the elementary or high school feels ill, keep them home to help prevent the illness from spreading.