DALLAS, Texas — The Dallas Independent School District (ISD) took a preliminary sigh of relief at the Dallas County Commissioners Court on Monday morning, October 20, when officials made a surprise announcement: four out of the eight students under quarantine for Ebola returned to school. They had met their 21-day mark without showing any symptoms of the deadly virus. The remaining four returned to class on Tuesday, October 21.
The district claimed it was unaware of the early return to school. All eight students tested negative for Ebola following exposure with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who brought the first case of the virus into the United States through Dallas. Duncan died from Ebola on October 8.
Five of these youngsters were from Dallas ISD; three were from the neighboring Richardson ISD. All had waited out the three-week Ebola clock schooling through Homebound Education. The three students from Richardson ISD transferred into Dallas ISD upon returning to the classroom.
Following the October 20 press conference, Breitbart Texas asked Dallas ISD News and Information Director Andre Riley a few questions about the students reaching this milestone in light of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommendation to double the watch period to 42 days. The WHO cited a 12 percent chance someone may be infected with the virus after the 21-day period, which Breitbart Texas reported.
Riley told Breitbart Texas, “Dallas ISD is acting on the advice of Dallas County Health and Human Services, as well as the CDC.”
Breitbart Texas inquired as to why the three Richardson ISD students jumped over to Dallas ISD. He insisted, “It has nothing to do with monitoring their health,” although no reason was given as to why the three students left their home school district.
Riley stated, “From our perspective, the students are enrolled in our schools, and we look forward to supporting their education.”
According to WFAA, a Richardson ISD spokesman said that the reason was family privacy. Interestingly, on its website, Dallas ISD divulged that these students will be schooled at Jill Stone Elementary in the Vickery Meadow section of Northeast Dallas.
Privacy being a primary goal, Riley noted that “We’ve not allowed media into schools during this period so as to protect our learning environment and the privacy of students and staff.”
Despite the public’s desire to see for themselves that the children are okay, Riley stated that the media ban will continue. “There are no plans to change that in the days to come.”
Earlier at the press conference, Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles wore a big smile when he told reporters, “We are happy to have our kids back in our schools.”
Miles insisted that he didn’t know the students were coming back a day early. On the district’s Health Updates he was quoted saying, “While we planned on them coming back to school on Tuesday, they were obviously eager to return back to the school environment and decided on their own to attend.”
He added, “Because they have been cleared by medical authorities and pose no health risk to any students or staff, we have no intent on sending them home. Their interest in getting back into school is encouraging.”
Similarly, Riley told Breitbart Texas, “Our goal has been to get them back in an instructional setting as soon as possible.”
During the press conference, Miles emphasized that school attendance was back to normal. There has been a strong push beyond Dallas ISD’s boundaries to remind uneasy parents countywide that it was safe to send their children to school. It has been a predominant theme leading up to the 21-day mark.
Breitbart Texas questioned why this emphasis into the surrounding areas which were not affected by the recent Ebola outbreak. Riley said, “Dallas County encompasses not only Dallas ISD but several other cities and school districts. The attendance at our five impacted schools is back to normal. We have worked very hard the last three weeks to continually communicate with staff and parents about the virus and the proactive measures taken to keep it from being spread at our schools.”
Riley is not anticipating a drop in attendance with the return of these students. He said, “We’ve done a lot of communicating with our parents to explain the situation, that the students do not have the virus and pose no risk whatsoever to other students or staff.”
This also includes the Health Updates. It has been the district’s hub of Ebola information for families.
With the return of these students, the district has shifted to vigilance mode, no longer watching for Ebola symptoms but instead for any signs of bullying towards the now formerly watch-listed kids. Despite concerns, these students were “welcomed upon arrival” according to the district and also according to WFAA.
Breitbart Texas asked the Dallas ISD spokesman if it was of concern that Gov. Perry welcomed the news of the release of all 43 and the first four of eight students with “guarded optimism.” Riley said, “No.”
Even so, he said, “for the time being” the previously installed fever monitors will remain in the district’s five affected or watch-listed campuses. Those state-of-the-art scanners measure body temperature for a potential Ebola fever.
Those affected Dallas ISD schools were Lowe Elementary, Tasby Middle School, Dan D. Rogers Elementary, Hotchkiss Elementary, and Emmett J. Conrad High School.
Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.