Information on Infectious Diseases

By law, a number of infectious diseases must be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health. The health office should be notified when a student has a communicable disease (e.g. chicken pox, strep throat, pertussis, norovirus) so appropriate measures may be taken. Notices may be sent home with other students when these conditions occur in a classroom. For a list of common childhood diseases, symptoms, communicability, and source of infection, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.

Rochester Public Schools follows the guidance and direction of our expert partners, Olmsted County Public Health Services and the Minnesota Department of Health, with respect to illness and infectious diseases.

Due to common questions, the information below is provided by the Minnesota Department of Health:

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

What is coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. They are estimated to cause about a third of all cases of the common cold. The most common forms can cause mild to moderate illness in people, while other forms circulate among animals, including camels, cats and bats.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus that has not been found in people before.

COVID-19 is not caused by the same coronavirus that caused Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003 or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012. However, it is in the same family of viruses.

For more information on COVID-19, visit MDH or the CDC website.

Influenza (flu)

What is influenza (flu)?

The flu is a respiratory disease caused by a virus that attacks the nose, throat, and lungs. Illness is usually mild or moderate, not requiring hospitalization. However, at times flu can be severe, even leading to death. It is not the same as the "stomach flu."

What are the symptoms?

Flu symptoms include fever, dry cough, sore throat, headache, extreme tiredness, and body aches. These symptoms usually begin suddenly and might be severe enough to stop your daily activities.

For more information on influenza, visit MDH or the CDC website.

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

What is pertussis?

Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a disease that affects the lungs. Pertussis bacteria are spread from person to person through droplets produced during coughing or sneezing. A person with pertussis develops a severe cough that usually lasts four to six weeks or longer. Pertussis can be very serious, especially in infants.

What are the symptoms of pertussis?

The first symptoms of pertussis are similar to a cold: sneezing, a runny nose, possibly a low-grade fever, and a cough. After one or two weeks, the cough becomes severe, such as:

  • The cough occurs in sudden, uncontrollable bursts where one cough follows the next without a break for breath.
  • A high-pitched whooping sound occurs when breathing in after a coughing episode. Whooping is less common in infants, adults, and people who have received pertussis vaccine. 
  • Vomiting during or after a coughing spell. 
  • The person's face or lips may look blue from lack of oxygen.
  • The cough is often worse at night.
  • Between coughing spells, the person seems well, but the illness is exhausting over time.  
  • Coughing episodes gradually become less frequent, but may continue for several weeks or months until the lungs heal.

For more information on Pertussis, visit MDH or the CDC website.


What is norovirus?

Noroviruses are a group of viruses (previously known as Norwalk-like viruses) that can cause gastroenteritis, an inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in Minnesota.

This infection is often mistakenly referred to as the “stomach flu”. Norovirus is not related to the flu (influenza), which is a common respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms of norovirus infection include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping. Less common symptoms can include low-grade fever or chills, headache, and muscle aches.

Symptoms usually begin 1 or 2 days after ingesting the virus, but may appear as early as 12 hours after exposure. The illness typically comes on suddenly. The infected person may feel very sick and vomit often, sometimes without warning, many times a day. Sometimes people infected with norovirus have no symptoms at all, but can still pass the virus to others.

For more information on Norovirus, visit MDH or the CDC website.