Ebola hysteria in the United States just keeps growing, with the latest evidence the case of a Maine teacher who flew to Dallas to attend an educational conference — miles away from the hospital where three cases have been diagnosed — and was told to stay away from the elementary school where she works for 21 days.
The Portland Press Herald reported that the unnamed teacher from Strong Elementary School in Maine is now on a 21-day paid leave of absence because parents found out that she went to Dallas and complained to the Maine School Administrative District 58 school board that they were not notified about her trip.
The educational conference — being held by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two multi-state consortia developing Common Core-aligned standardized tests with federal funds — is some 10 miles from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. That is where Thomas Duncan of Liberia was diagnosed with Ebola last month and where two nurses who attended to him have since come down with the disease. About 135 people who came into contact with the afflicted are being monitored. Medical experts say that Ebola is not transmitted through the air and can only be contagious through the transfer of bodily fluids.
The school board put up a message on its Web site that said:
A number of parents have expressed concern about the possible exposure of one of our staff to the Ebola virus due to this staff member’s recent travels to Dallas, Texas. At this time, we have no information to suggest that this staff member has been in contact with anyone who has been exposed to Ebola. However, the District and the staff member understand the parents’ concerns. Therefore, after several discussions with the staff member, out of an abundance of caution, this staff member has been placed on a paid leave of absence for up to 21 days. The District will remain in close contact with the Maine Department of Education and the Maine CDC in regard to this issue, and will follow all of the directives issued by these agencies.
An abundance of caution? Sounds like something well beyond that, just like the closing of several schools in Ohio and Texas last week. As I wrote in this post, scaring kids unnecessarily isn’t on any school curriculum, but some schools are teaching that lesson anyway.