Student Well-Being

Ebola: Some Schools Shut Down; Others Screening for Virus

By Evie Blad — October 15, 2014 2 min read
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Districts in Solon, Ohio, and Belton, Texas, closed some schools this week in response to news that a nurse who was recently diagnosed with the Ebola virus flew on a commercial airplane while she may have been showing symptoms, the Washington Post reports.

The districts took the action after determining that staff or students were aboard the same Frontier Airlines flight as the nurse, local media reports.

Elsewhere, a few isolated school districts have started screening students for Ebola. In Louisiana, the state’s education board has approved emergency rules that will allow districts to close and send students home if they sense a threat from the illness, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

Districts doing screenings including a handful in Virginia and Texas, are asking newly enrolled students and students who fall ill at school about their travel history to determine if they’ve recently visited any of the African countries most heavily impacted by the virus, news reports say.

Fairfax County, Va., schools structured their screenings using information about the virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reports. Lynchburg, Va., schools are doing similar screenings. The Fairfax district says it has no reason to believe anyone is at risk, the station reports.

“The first symptom is fever, so if a student is exhibiting symptoms like that at school, these questions will be asked,” district spokesman John Torre said. “If the answer is yes to the question, then further investigation will take place.”

After two instances of Ebola were reported in Dallas, the Texas School Nurses Association issued Ebola screening guidance, advising its members to discuss screening procedures with school administrators and local health departments.

Following that guidance, the Lubbock district added questions to its enrollment documents for new students, KCBD News reports. In Dallas, where the first case of Ebola in the United States was detected, some schools are using temperature scanners to detect fevers, the Associated Press reports.

I will update if anything changes, but I have not found any information from the CDC or any national school health organizations advising schools to adopt heightened measures in response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Cases of the virus in the United States remain isolated, and affected patients are only contagious when they are displaying symptoms, including a fever. The virus spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

The CDC has issued an advisory to clinicians about how to evaluate patients for Ebola, but the agency has focused its discussions on hospital workers. Officials have said the chances of catching the disease are extremely low for people within the United States.

Related content: Experts say the risk of Ebola spreading in schools is extremely low.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.