The D.C. Board of Education last night temporarily adopted guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control for dealing with students infected with AIDS and issued separate regulations on school employes who may contract the fatal ailment.
The board emphasized, however, that school officials will have the flexibility to deal with affected students and employes on a "case-by-case" basis.
The CDC guidelines -- the only such national standard for dealing with acquired immune deficiency syndrome -- were issued last month and recommended that children infected with the virus should be allowed to attend school or day-care programs.
The interim measures adopted by the school board last night, however,did not say that all students and employes with AIDS should be allowed to attend school or enter administration buildings.
Instead, the measures state that the superintendent and the board must require that AIDS victims be examined by city health officials before school officials can make decisions on what action to take.
The tentative rules will remain in effect until a task force, not yet appointed, can make comprehensive recommendations to the school boards in December.
Some school districts in the country have prohibited children with AIDS from attending classes altogether. The CDC concluded in its study, however, that the chances of AIDS-infected children transmitting the disease to others is minimal and reported that the benefits of allowing infected children to attend school would outweigh the risks.
The CDC recommended that those caring for children infected with AIDS should be aware of modes of possible transmission and wash hands thoroughly after exposure to body fluids and before touching other children. Blood tests to screen for AIDS antibodies should not be required for school entry, the CDC concluded.
Board members, several of whom said they were being very cautious in light of a growing "hysteria" about AIDS, adopted both measures by unanimous votes.
"Even though we're following CDC guidelines, we have a caveat that there will be a case-by-case review," said school board member Eugene Kinlow, chairman of the Committee on Student Services and Community Involvement, which drafted one of the proposals.
"We have had very close cooperation with the D.C. health commissioner with these interim guidelines. We will be adopting more wide-ranging guidelines after the task force has made its studies," Kinlow said.
School officials hurried to draft proposals for dealing with AIDS-infected students and employes after they learned two weeks ago that a D.C. student had been exposed to the virus as a result of a blood transfusion.
The child, a hemophiliac, was not identified by school officials, who barred the student from attending classes with other students until further tests by city health officials are completed. Meanwhile, the student has received separate instruction in an unidentified school.
The regulations pertaining to school employes who may contract AIDS state that the superintendent "will make decisions regarding whether or not" to allow a school employe who is found to have AIDS to continue working. The superintendent must take into account "both the employe's physical condition and the duties that he/she performs within the school system."
According to city regulations, any school employe who has a communicable disease may be quarantined by the city health commissioner or forced to retire on "involuntary disability" by either the commissioner or the board.