AN OUTBREAK of norovirus led to the closure of a Dorset first school.

Hundreds of pupils got the day off to allow for a deep clean at Parley First School.

Head teacher John Bagwell said the presence of norovirus became clear on Friday afternoon and a decision was taken to close the school yesterday.

He told the Daily Echo: “Children and staff started to become unwell on Friday afternoon and we were told on Friday evening that a lot of other people had been affected.

“We notified parents on Saturday morning that the school would be closed on Monday to give them as much notice as possible.

“I am not sure exactly how many people were affected but I took the decision to close for a day in the interests of the health of children and staff.”

The school, in Glenmoor Road, West Parley, has round 300 pupils between the ages of four and nine-years-old. It has more than 30 teaching and support staff.

Mr Bagwell was the only member of staff on the premises on Monday.

The school is on the same site as the Rainbow’s End Montessori nursery, which has round 40 children aged between two and four on roll.

The nursery was closed yesterday as a precautionary measure. It will remain closed today, although staff currently plan to reopen tomorrow, Wednesday, as usual.

Norovirus, often referred to as the winter-vomiting bug, causes diarrhoea and sickness and is one of the most common stomach bugs in the UK.

Although unpleasant, it is not considered to be dangerous and usually clears up by itself in a few days.

It is highly infectious and anyone who has had norovirus is urged to stay at home for 48 hours after symptoms subside.

They are also urged to stay away from healthcare facilities such as hospitals or residential homes,and to wash their hands frequently with warm water and liquid soap, especially after using the toilet and before preparing food.

Several cases have been reported in Dorset in recent weeks.