School Officials Draft Guidelines for Pupils Suffering From AIDS
Educators in Chicago and New York City are working with local health officials to draft guidelines for dealing with pupils who have acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
To date, at least four states have developed nonbinding advisory guidelines for school officials facing the problem. Chicago and New York City are thought to be the first big-city districts developing districtwide policies.
In Chicago, the city health department, acting on a request by the Chicago Board of Education, plans to recommend that students with AIDS be allowed to attend school except in rare cases, according to Chet J. Kelly, project coordinator of a three-member health-department task force working on the draft.
The recommendation, contained in guidelines to be released this month, is in agreement with those that were distributed late last week by the federal Centers for Disease Control. (See Education Week, Aug. 21, 1985.)
The city's guidelines come not as a response to specific cases of AIDS in the district, Mr. Kelly explained, but because "it's better to have them in place… before the situation arises." The Chicago guidelines will also include recommendations for dealing with teachers and preschool students with the fatal disease.
In New York City, where health agencies have recorded 77 cases of pediatric and juvenile AIDS since 1981, officials have been working all summer to develop guidelines for the schooling of such children, according to Marvin Bogner, a spokesman for the city health department.
Health officials have not yet decided whether to recommend continued classroom instruction or private instruction for AIDS victims, Mr. Bogner said. A decision is expected this week.
Meanwhile, Ryan White, the Kokomo, Ind., student barred from school because he has AIDS, began classes last week via a telephone hook-up to his home, and was the subject of a series of radio spots over Kokomo stations paid for by a New York-based advocacy group for AIDS victims.
Ryan was to begin 7th grade at Western Middle School last Monday, but was blocked from attending classes because of concern by district officials that he might infect other students.
The short radio messages, aired for the first time last Thursday and sponsored by the AIDS Foundation, present medical opinion on the danger of infection and ask James O. Smith, superintendent of the Western Middle Corporation school district, to admit the boy, who is a hemophiliac.
“We know you’re facing a very sensitive issue,” the ad says. “We hope that hearing what this country’s top medical experts say about AIDS” will provide convincing evidence that the decision to bar Ryan should be reversed.
The radio tape quotes Dr. James Curran, chief of the AIDS task force at the C.D.C., who has said there is no evidence the disease can be transmitted to others through casual contact.
The foundation plans to continue running the ads “until Ryan goes to school,” according to Roger Cunningham, general manager of the group.
Ryan’s first experience with the district-provided telephone hook-up proved “very unsatisfactory,” according to his lawyer, Charles R. Vaughan. Subsequently, a new system was installed that allows the boy to hear his 7th-grade teacher instructing the rest of the class.
Under orders from a federal district judge, Ryan's lawyers continue to pursue administrative remedies in their attempt to have the boy reinstated in regular classes.
Vol. 05, Issue 01, Page 31