Sunday, October 19, 2014

Maine Teacher Placed on Administrative Leave for Attending Seminar in Dallas, TX // Parents Concerned She'll Infect Students with Ebola

An unnamed teacher from Strong Elementary School in Strong, ME, has been placed on a 21-day paid leave of absence due to parents' concerns. It seems that she is attending a seminar held by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and that seminar is being held in Dallas, TX. The conference center is roughly 10 miles from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which is where a Liberian patient named Thomas Eric Duncan died from the disease and infected two of the nurses who cared for him. Keep in mind, this teacher isn't volunteering her time in Texas caring for patients with the disease. She's just in the same community.

In other words, parents believe that this teacher is now at risk for infecting their children with Ebola:
“What the parents were saying last night is that, you sent (this teacher) to a potentially harmful area for exposure, and then to come back and jump into the classroom on Monday seemed a little bit reckless,” (parent Matt) Dexter said.
Despite assurances from health officials about the low chance of contracting Ebola – and the fact that no one in Maine has contracted the disease – Dexter believes the government has failed to effectively educate people about how Ebola spreads, and worse, downplayed risk factors.

“I’m really tired of people telling everyone, on the news, starting at the national level, ‘zero risk, low risk,'” he said. “The bottom line is that there is risk. Are we more capable of handling this than Africa? Sure, but why walk around blind and jam people into hot spots we can’t control? It all comes down to personal responsibility.”
I understand that Ebola is scary. You are more likely than not to die from it if you catch it. But you contract the disease from direct contract with those who are infected -- specifically their body fluids and waste. It's worth noting that the people he was staying with are not infected. If this unnamed teacher was at risk for infection just for being within 10 miles are where he'd died, why aren't these friends and family members deathly ill?

It's not just Strong Elementary School that is irrationally panicking over Ebola:
A Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist for the Washington Post, who photographed Ebola victims in Liberia in September, was disinvited from a photojournalism workshop at Syracuse University even though he showed no signs of the disease for 21 days after his return to the United States. On Thursday, a woman flying on an American Airlines flight from Dallas-Fort Worth to Chicago vomited in the airplane, and was subsequently locked in a bathroom by flight staff. In Hazelhurst, Mississippi, a crowd of parents pulled their middle school students from class Friday after learning that the school’s principal recently had traveled to attend a family funeral in Zambia, which is in southern Africa and about 3,000 miles from the outbreak in West Africa.
I've heard of hair salons who are turning away potential customers who have traveled "anywhere near West Africa in the past month." There was a community college that has rejected applicants from African countries.

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