Dallas schools alert parents to Ebola concerns

DALLAS — A group of custodians dressed in white hazmat suits could be seen through the doors of Lowe Elementary School Wednesday night, going from room to room and carefully cleaning the halls.

The extra attention was part of the plan announced by Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles after he issued an Ebola awareness letter at four campuses.

"I'm very worried," said Maria Gonzalez as she picked up her children from Hotchkiss Elementary School. She received one of the awareness letters from a teacher. "Very worried."

Moms and dads with students at the four Dallas ISD schools were worried after the school district announced five unidentified students may have had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who was diagnosed with the Ebola virus in Dallas this week.

"One of the teachers, the secretaries, that I talked to said it's not serious," Lashundra Johnson said as she picked up her son from Tasby Middle School. "But it is serious... it's very serious."

As some parents rushed to pick up their children from school, Miles made the rounds to Hotchkiss Elementary, Rogers Elementary, Tasby Middle and Conrad High schools. He was advising parents and staff that the five students who may have been exposed to Ebola are now at home being monitored by doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Miles said the possibility of contracting Ebola is very low, but the school district is making several changes at the four campuses out of an abundance of caution.

"We have additional nurses on staff so if the students feel like they have a question about their health — or the parents do — they can come in and get their questions answered."

Over the next few weeks, Dallas ISD is also keeping extra custodians on staff to disinfect the impacted schools.

"It's just to do a second wipe-down, just like we do with West Nile or avian flu," Miles explained.

Some parents believe the school district is doing all it can right now. However, many moms and dads say they will be expecting more information from the Dallas ISD to ensure their own children are safe.

Dallas ISD administrators are encouraging parents to continue sending their children to school this week. The district has set up a recorded hotline to provide updates: 972-925-5810.


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