3rd Grader Barred From School for Three Weeks after Visiting Country that Doesn’t Have Ebola
A Connecticut school has barred a healthy little girl from classes after a visit to Ebola-free Nigeria.
NYT (“After a Family Trip to Africa, a Connecticut Girl, 7, Is Unwelcome at School“):
The third-grader was not feeling sick. She did not have a fever or any other symptoms of Ebola. Having just completed a 10-day trip to Nigeria, where she was the flower girl at a family wedding, she was eager to get back to class. But officials at her Connecticut elementary school told her she could not come back.
Concerned by her trip to Africa, they said the third-grader, Ikeoluwa Opayemi, would have to stay out of class at Meadowside Elementary School in Milford for 21 days, the maximum known time it can take for symptoms of Ebola to emerge.
“I said, ‘Look, I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ ” her father, Stephen Opayemi, recalled. After all, his daughter had not been exposed to anyone with Ebola. In fact, there are no known Ebola patients in Nigeria, which has been declared free of the disease by the World Health Organization.
Connecticut’s safeguards go beyond federal recommendations and include the possibility of quarantine for asymptomatic people who meet certain risk factors, including recent travel to a country experiencing an Ebola outbreak, which would not include Nigeria.
According to the Opayemi family’s lawsuit, Dr. Andrew Dennis McBride, Milford’s health director, “acknowledged that his decision was not based on any approved state or federal protocol, was not based on any scientific or medical evidence, and violated the C.D.C., World Health Organization, Connecticut Department of Public Health and U.S. State Department protocols.”
On Wednesday, Dr. McBride’s office said he was not available for comment. In a statement, Elizabeth Feser, Milford’s superintendent of schools, said: “In addressing this situation, at all times, my staff and I proceeded in good faith to respond to this public health issue. We acted in the best interest of all of our students and staff.”
The purpose of public education is to teach the public. The notion that school districts should act irrationally because the public is ignorant is mindboggling.
Beyond that, we simply have to address this notion of local yokels being in charge of these decisions. The power of the state to deprive citizens of their liberty is supposed to require due process of law. Somehow, we’ve come to the point where politicians—and even unelected functionaries—have the ability to confine people, or in this case deny them access to public services, on sheer whim.