As a rule, high school sucks. Now imagine going to high school thinking you could get infected with one of the most deadly viruses known to man.
There are a few caveats to that, of course. One, ebola is not nearly as deadly as we like to think -- far more people are killed by, say, the common flu every year than by ebola. Two, the chances of anyone at these schools becoming exposed to the virus is almost absurdly miniscule.
Still, it's easy to see why some Dallas parents, weighing the pros and cons of sending their kids to school yesterday, might have opted to keep them home. And that's exactly what many parents at Conrad High School, Tasby Middle School, Dan Rogers Elementary, Hotchkiss Elementary, and Jack Lowe Elementary chose to do. Kids walking home after school release on Thursday noted several missing classmates, and the hallways of the schools were abuzz with talk of the virus.
One student, a senior at Conrad, said some of his classes were close to empty. "There were a lot of people gone today," he said. "Supposedly there's this ebola virus. The whole school day people were talking about it."
Dallas ISD reported that attendance at these five schools was at roughly 86 percent, down from the average daily attendance of 96 percent. Now, three Richardson ISD children at Wallace Elementary have been removed from classes after possible exposure to the virus. Adding to the general chaos, several district schools are closed today due to power outages from Thursday's storm, including Hotchkiss Elementary.
Niko Johnson lives across the street from the apartment complex where ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was staying, and has a niece that attends Tasby Middle School. Johnson's family cautiously sent the girl to school on Thursday, but he said they might keep her home in the days to come. "I'm worried about her. They say it's highly infectious," he said. "It's a shame I think that we're not checking what's coming into the country."
Cristina Garcia has four children who collectively attend Tasby Middle School, Conrad High School and Jack Lowe Elementary. She decided to keep her kids home on Thursday and is unsure when the kids should return to school.
"I was talking to my husband, and we said we shouldn't send them to school. I mean they're not providing enough information, they're just telling you to wait. And as a parent you can't do anything, it's like our hands are tied," she said. "It's too much to take in. We're wondering how much to freak out."