DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Five students from five different campuses in the Dallas Independent School District are not attending classes on Thursday. That is because they are under observation after a possible exposure to the Ebola virus. Now, parents in the area are faced with fear and confusion.
School officials have said that the goal for Thursday is to get the campuses back to normal. However, on Wednesday, crews in hazmat suits arrived to at least one of the schools to disinfect the building after news broke that students were among those few people who may have come into contact with the patient being treated for Ebola in Dallas.
The DISD schools now under the microscope are Dan D. Rogers Elementary School, Jack Lowe Sr. Elementary School, L.L. Hotchkiss Elementary School, Sam Tasby Middle School and Emmett J. Conrad High School. The parents and students at these schools speak several different languages, and that diversity has presented a challenge for school officials who are trying to provide information and ease panic.
Superintendent Mike Miles said that 32 different languages are spoken at Emmett J. Conrad High School alone. “We’re putting extra people on the ground so they can interpret and help people understand,” Miles said. Also, extra nurses will be at the five campuses on Thursday to keep an eye on the children who remain in class.
A school district spokesman said that there are no scheduled events for the campuses on Thursday, but more information is expected to be released throughout the day in an effort to keep parents informed. “I know it is a sickness, but I’m not sure what kind of sickness,” said parent Nany Deanda on Wednesday. “They gave me this information, going to make me some minutes to read it.”
“We’re going to get back to the business of teaching and learning,” said DISD spokesman Andre Riley early on Thursday morning. “Yesterday was a challenging day for the schools. They probably received a little more attention than they normally get, a little bit more of an uproar, a little bit more uncertainty. So, today, we’re getting back to the business of increasing student acheivement.”
Officials said that it could be weeks before the five students are able to return to classes.
Meanwhile, parents are left wondering how much danger their kids really face, and students are left worrying about their classmates. “He was close to us,” said a young student about one of the children now being observed. “He was like our best friend.”
Dallas mother Brittany Morris asked, “How do we know that for sure, that they had no other contact? How do we know that for sure? How do we know they’re telling the truth about who they’ve come in contact with?”
“A lot of questions going through my mind,” added mother Ashley Jackson, “but I did see on the internet that they’re doing everything as far as the schools, even the other people he contacted. So, I’m very confident.”
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