Early this morning, Dallas ISD received word from the Centers for Disease Control that five district students have been exposed to the Ebola virus. The students attend Emmett Conrad High School, Sam Tasby Middle School, Dan Rogers Elementary, and Hotchkiss Elementary. Jack Lowe Elementary, which is located close to Tasby and Conrad High, is also being closely monitored.
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The five students have been identified as within the patient's immediate family circle. They are being kept at home for the 21-day incubation cycle of the virus, but are not being quarantined. While CDC and local health officials are in close interaction with the families, they will be allowed to leave their homes until or if they exhibit symptoms.
Dallas ISD also issued a statement to parents and staff today, and launched a health awareness site, warning to keep an eye for possible ebola symptoms. "We are working with the CDC to ensure that we keep the confidence high, and the safety of our kids is paramount," said DISD Superintendent Mike Miles at a press conference this afternoon, held at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. "We'll take some steps to ensure that, and the number one step is information. We want to make sure our parents are informed."
Twelve to 18 additional people in total are being watched for possible symptoms. City and state health officials are also beginning a door-to-door campaign to reassure residents near the schools that, unless Patient Zero puked on them recently, they should be fine.
The schools are located in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood, an ethnically diverse area with a high immigrant population, including many immigrants and refugees from Africa. "We're going to reassure people face-to-face and in close proximity that they're OK. That's one of the best ways that you are going to be OK," Judge Clay Jenkins said. "People are from many different countries and speak 33 different languages, and many people are going to be very afraid."
Besides containing the spread of the virus, the main goal, thus far, seems to be avoiding panic in the streets -- which city officials seem to think is a very real possibility. "This is not West Africa," emphasized Dr. David Lakey, Commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. "This is a very sophisticated city, and a very sophisticated hospital."