MORE than 100 pupils were struck down after a vomiting virus hit youngsters at a Basingstoke infant school.

The bug spread among children at Old Basing Infant School, in Milkingpen Lane, after two pupils were sent home after being ill in school on Tuesday, July 8.

The following day, the school had 68 reported absences due to sickness – more than a quarter of the entire school roll.

Headteacher Tracey McCarley said: “I immediately alerted Public Health England. Acting on their advice, I arranged for any siblings of those already unwell to be taken home, and I arranged for a deep clean of the entire school the same day.”

Siblings of children affected were also sent home from St Mary’s Junior School, in Belle Vue Road, Old Basing, and The Costello School, in Crossborough Hill. A total of 30 children were affected by the bug at St Mary’s Junior School.

St Mary’s headteacher Caroline Welch said: “None of our pupils had been sick while at school. A few have been absent from school for illness.

“The headteacher at Old Basing Infant School contacted me last Wednesday after a significant number of children there did not attend school due to sickness and, following the Public Health advice given to Old Basing Infants, we arranged, as a precaution, for parents to collect their older siblings who are at our school.

“Similarly, as a further precaution, we sent home children who reported feeling unwell but the majority of their parents have advised that those children have not had any further symptoms.”

A further 12 children and six members of staff at Old Basing Infants came down with the illness last Thursday and Friday.

Mrs McCarley said: “All parents were advised not to send their children to school until their child or anyone else in their immediate family has been clear of sickness for at least 48 hours.

“We have reminded parents and children of the importance of washing their hands and the recommended method for doing this thoroughly. Messages around maintaining good standards of hygiene and the consequences of not doing so are being reinforced.”

She said that the number of cases of sickness this week had “significantly reduced” as a result of the school’s swift action, adding: “The parents have been extremely supportive and understanding of the need to keep children away from school for 48 hours, and it is this which has helped to ensure the spread of the vomiting bug has been controlled within the school.”

Public Health England confirmed that it had been working with the two schools following the outbreak of the virus.

A statement said: “PHE has given advice to both schools on how best to deal with the outbreak and will continue to support them with appropriate public health information.

“As always in episodes of gastrointestinal illness, the advice is to pay particular attention to good hygiene, washing hands thoroughly after every episode of illness or visit to the toilet.”

A message on The Costello School’s website states: “If you have children at Old Basing Infants or St Mary’s Junior School, who have the diarrhoea and vomiting bug, please keep your Costello children at home for 48 hours in order to reduce the risk of contamination.”