DALLAS, Texas — On Friday, October 3, Jack Lowe, Sr. Elementary students in the Dallas Independent School District (ISD) greeted parents at the end of theschool day with a barrage of TV news choppers hovering so closely overhead that the wind kicked up over the school grounds. Lowe Elementary is located less than a half mile away from the Ivy Apartments where a HAZMAT cleanup and the Ebola victim’s family was escorted by county officials toan undisclosed location Breitbart Texas reported.
Families are worried at Lowe Elementary, which is a “notified school” that’s being monitored because it is attached to Sam Tasby Middle School where an Ebola affected child was removed on October 1 and placed under home observation for 21 days to see if any symptoms manifest. Siblings straddlethe two campuses that serve a predominantly mixed international immigrant population in the densely packed apartments of Northeast Dallas’ Vickery Meadows section.
Dallas ISD’s working hard to allay fears. Students went home with the district’s latest update letter in English and Spanish. Titled “Important Information Regarding The Ebola Virus,” it is attached following this article.
The letter mentions the students who “are staying home” and “remain under observation by the Dallas County Health & Human Services Department (DCHHS). It emphasized that contagion only happens when a victim shows symptoms and directed families to Dallas ISD Health Updates, which posts daily “marketing” messages since the Ebola incident erupted. Dallas ISD even included how they were servicing the five homebound students educationally.
Despite information coming home and the vast web-based Ebola literature the district is putting out, it may well be lost in translation on immigrant populations where children often translate to their non-English speaking parents and grandparents. Unlike the eerie calm of school-aged children playing in the Ivy Apartments where the Ebola victim had stayed and family members remained until October 3, far more visible fear was found on campus.
Eight year old Danny spoke to Breitbart Texas because his mother didn’t speak English. He said that even though his principal said everything was fine, he admitted, “I am scared. I think I’m going to die.”
Danny’s mom explained in Spanish that she knew they cleaned the school,” referring to the scrubbing the school received on the evening of October 1. Danny also said that principal Yesenia Ramirez talked to the children about cleanliness in the bathroom, including cleaning the toilet seats.
Another Lowe student, 11 year-old Brian, said “I’m worried because I think it’s going to happen to me.”
He also said that school officials told the children to always wash their hands and “get your shots” referring to childhood inoculations.
Meanwhile, an English speaking dad who preferred to remain nameless did not think that Ebola was a threat at all. He told Breitbart Texas “I think it’s people over-reacting.”
Breitbart Texas attempted to speak to a school official who was part of the afternoon dismissal team but she refused to comment beyond saying how everything at Lowe was great as she rushed away.
Shortly thereafter, at the connecting Tasby Middle School, families began pulling up in front of the school for late afternoon pick up. Tasby was one of the schools that parents pulled their children from when the news of Ebola first hit the airwaves. The scene was calmer when Breitbart Texas spoke with parents and other family members but they were no less concerned.
Neighborhood grandmother Natalia Hernandez came to retrieve her sixth and eighth grade grandchildren. She spoke through her niece Gloria, aged 17, in the waiting SUV.
“We don’t know much. They say it’s fine but if they would let us know a little more,” Hernandez stated, which Breitbart Texas questioned since so much district information had been put out to the community. She explained that she wasn’t interested in the district’s website, even if translated into Spanish. She was afraid and wanted to know more about symptoms, and more about the Ebola affected student who attended school for two days before being put on homebound observation.
Niece Gloria chimed in, posing “If the kid was here on Monday and Tuesday, why didn’t they close down the school?”
She explained that she wasn’t so certain the school was safe. “They say it’s fine but I don’t think so.”
Gloria added that her younger brother attends Dan D. Rogers Elementary, another Ebola affected area school and he was in art class with the one of the students who is now on home-watch. Of equal concern, she voiced that she’s a young mother. She told Breitbart Texas, “People are catching it. Yes, some kids are staying home. Yes, I’m scared.”
On the other hand, a few blocks away from the Ivy Apartments at Emmett J. Conrad High School, sophomore Jimmy was willing to speak to Breitbart Texas. He said, “I was scared at first because there was a student here but they released him and he’s not here so I’m not scared anymore. They told us it’s not easy to catch Ebola.”
Previously, on Tuesday evening, October 2, Breitbart Texas spoke to a Lowe Elementary school teacher under the condition of anonymity near the Ivy Apartments. She acknowledged that attendance rates at the school dipped when the Ebola news hit but in her classroom that drop was only three students out of a total of 20. She said it came back up by two the next day.
Earlier in the day, Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles said that attendance dropped 10 percent district-wide from 96 to 86 percent. Although very upbeat, the teacher emphasized, “It was scary seeing police and someone in a HAZMAT suit at the school.”
She also pointed out that principal Ramirez “was incredibly forthcoming” with staff and families reassuring them that things would get back to normal.
The Ebola affected or currently monitored Dallas ISD schools are Dan D. Rogers Elementary, Tasby Middle School, Emmett J. Conrad High School,Lowe Elementary, and Hotchkiss Elementary.
Erikka Neroes at the DCHHS confirmed by email to Breitbart Texas that three additional students in Richardson ISD are also part of the contact tracing.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.