RED OAK (CBSDFW.COM) – Four months after tuberculosis cases appeared in Ellis and Denton counties, a third community is about to begin testing.
Red Oak Independent School District officials sent letters home Wednesday with students at H.A. Wooden Elementary, informing them that state health services planned a series of tests after a staff member had a questionable screening for the disease.
That staff member, who the district is not identifying, has been out of the school since at least last week when the district learned about the test.
District officials said it had not been determined if the tuberculosis was active or latent.
Only the active form of the disease can be spread through coughing, sneezing or being in close contact with someone.
Just hours after the note went home Wednesday night, as many as 150 concerned parents crowded the Red Oak High School gym for an informational meeting.
Texas Department of State Health Services will conduct a precautionary screening on the Wooden Campus on Jan. 31 for students and staff who were in immediate contact with the staff member.
The district didn’t know about the need for testing until late Tuesday.
“And we worked as quickly as we could, in cooperation with health officials, to get that information out today,” said district spokesperson Gay Lynn Jimerson-Broom.
The news follows a TB scare in Ennis last year, where more than 200 students and faculty tested positive for a form of the disease.
Concern spread when a student from Ennis moved to Denton, sparking a round of testing there.
Red Oak parents said there had been concern in the community since the initial outbreak in Ennis.
“It’s kind of a tight knit community,” said Randy Loyd. “Everybody goes to the same grocery store. It wouldn’t take no time to spread.”
Red Oak ISD does test teachers for TB when they’re hired.
The district has decided to contract a local health care provider to do voluntary testing for students at Wooden who are not included in the first round initiated by the state.
All campuses are going through an additional cleaning, Jimerson-Brown said.
Parents are being encouraged to continue sending their children to school this week, but the students will not be penalized if parents decide to keep them home until more questions are answered.