Students From Ebola-Free Rwanda Held Home From NJ School

Two Rwandan students who were supposed to begin classes at Howard Yocum elementary school in Maple Shade, N.J. are instead being held at home after parents expressed concern about the Ebola outbreak.
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October 20, 2014 1:29 p.m.

Two Rwandan students who were supposed to begin classes Monday at a New Jersey elementary school are instead being held at home after parents expressed concern about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Philadelphia TV station WTXF reported that the school nurse at Howard Yocum Elementary School in Maple Shade, N.J. sent a letter to staff members informing them that the school planned to take the new students’ temperature three times a day for 21 days as a precaution.

But that letter began to circulate among concerned parents, according to WTXF, prompting the school district to post a public statement Saturday on its website.

“The Maple Shade School District takes the health of all students and staff very seriously,” Superintendent Beth Norcia said in the statement. “As many of you are aware, we have students who have spent time in the eastern portion of Africa that were scheduled to start in our schools on Monday. This area of Africa has been unaffected by the Ebola virus. Despite the fact that the students are symptom-free and not from an affected area, the parents have elected to keep their children home past the 21 day waiting period.”

Twenty-one days is the longest known incubation period for the Ebola virus. But as WTXF pointed out, Rwanda is an east African country that lays 2,600 miles from the closest affected country in West Africa — that’s about the same distance from Seattle, Washington to Philadelphia.

Norcia’s statement said that the students would begin classes the week following the 21-day waiting period. It’s unclear whether the students’ parents volunteered to keep their children out of school or whether the school district suggested they do so, according to WTXF.

Norcia didn’t immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

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