Ebola hysteria in U.S. schools has jumped to another level in New Jersey, where two students scheduled to start school in the suburbs of Philadelphia are being kept home after an outcry from parents over their recent travels in central Africa.
Two students from Rwanda were scheduled to begin classes Monday at Howard Yocum Elementary School in Maple Shade, N.J., but their arrival will now be delayed for some time after the children’s parents chose to keep them home until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola has elapsed.
While the decision was made by the parents, it follows an outcry by parents in the town. Initially, the enrollment of two African students had gone unannounced, with only school teachers being notified by a school nurse that the students would be starting classes. The information began to leak out, however, eventually compelling the school to make a public announcement of the students’ enrollment, while noting they were symptom-free and were not even from the general vicinity of the ebola outbreak.
Parents, however, still reacted with public consternation, criticizing the school and even speaking out on local media.
“I don’t feel comfortable sending my daughter to school with people who could be infected with Ebola,” one parent told local news station Fox 29. “Anybody from that area should just stay there until all this stuff is resolved. There’s nobody affected here [so] let’s just keep it that way,” said another.
‘That area’ is actually quite far from the location of the current ebola outbreak, however. Rwanda is located in the heart of Africa, and the distance between its capital Kigali and Monrovia, Liberia, where the current outbreak is centered, is almost 2,900 miles. For comparison, that’s greater than the distance between Los Angeles and New York, and close to twice the distance from London to Moscow. To get from Rwanda to Nigeria, the closest country with Ebola cases (though the outbreak there appears to have been contained), one must pass through at least three other countries.
Parents, however, say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
“I think for another couple weeks. I don’t think it would hurt,” one father said.
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