Fears over the Ebola virus have caused schools in both suburban Cleveland and Texas to shut down Thursday, after fears that employees may have interacted with an Ebola-infected person.
The closures are primarily linked to the Ebola diagnosis of Dallas nurse Amber Joy Vinson. After contracting the virus, Vinson flew to Cleveland to plan a wedding, and then returned to Dallas despite already having a fever.
School employees or students in both cities may have flown on the same plane as Vinson, so the closings are a precautionary measure, for the most part announced at the last minute. At Solon Middle School in Solon, Ohio, a staff member is being kept home for 21 days, the maximum known incubation period for the virus, while students are being kept away until the school can be thoroughly disinfected. Similar precautions reign at Hathaway Brown School in Shaker Heights, Kennedy High School in Cranwood, and at three primary schools in central Texas.
In addition to disinfecting school campuses, at least one of the schools is taking the added step of disinfecting its school buses as well.
Meanwhile, the city of New York has issued its own special guidelines for dealing with Ebola, due to the city’s population of over 70,000 West African immigrants. The guidelines include a requirement that students who come down with a fever within 21 days of returning from West Africa be sequestered in a private room until a parent picks them up, if a nurse is not available to take immediate action.
The education establishment nationwide has become increasingly involved in the burgeoning Ebola crisis. On Thursday, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the country’s second-largest teachers union, released a three-point strategy for dealing with the Ebola threat that focuses on creating special anti-Ebola teams and creating new patient-handling techniques with the input of professional nurses. While best-known as a teachers union, AFT is also the country’s second-largest union for nurses, containing thousands of school health professionals as well as ordinary hospital employees and professional caregivers.
AFT President Randi Weingarten told reporters Wednesday that the Ebola outbreak centered in West Africa is “one of the most deadly crises of modern times.”
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