Some OK Students, Faculty Asked To Stay Home After Ebola Scare On Cruise

Sunday, October 19th 2014, 8:43 pm
By: News 9

Students and staff members of some Oklahoma schools that were on the same Carnival Cruise as a Texas Presbyterian lab technician, who handled the Ebola patient's specimens, are being asked to stay home until that lab tech can first be medically cleared.

Moore Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Romines issued a statement regarding the situation, Sunday evening, saying they have asked the students and faculty members who were on the same Carnival Cruise as the lab technician to stay at home. 

The female lab technician in question left the US for the cruise on October 12, and was deemed safe for travel at the time. However, after two nurses from the hospital began to show symptoms, the woman and her husband self-quarantined out of caution.

10/17/2014 Related Story: Cruise Ship Passenger Monitored For Ebola

On Sunday morning the cruise ship docked in Galveston, Texas. A spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines said it was informed by health authorities that the lab tech tested negative for Ebola. The woman and her husband were allowed to drive themselves home after arriving in Galveston, according to Carnival Cruise Lines Vice President for guest care, Vicki Rey.

The school issued the following statement regarding the issue:

“This weekend (October 17-18, 2014), the Moore school district was made aware that several staff members, as well as students from Moore Public Schools were on the same Carnival Cruise as the lab technician who handled the Ebola patient's specimens at Texas Presbyterian Hospital.

As of the latest reports, the lab technician was not exhibiting any signs or symptoms of the Ebola strain. However, the technician's incubation period of 21 days has not expired.

Erring on the side of caution, the Administration of Moore Public Schools has determined that employees who were on the cruise shall not report to work until the district can confirm that the lab technician has been “cleared” and there is no medical threat.

Administrators from Moore Public Schools are in the process of identifying students who may have been on the cruise. Once identified, those students will also be required to stay out of school and will not be allowed to attend any school activities. Their absences will not be counted against them, and they will be allowed ample time to make up any missed work.

The school district has been in contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ascertain the status of the lab technician and will continue to monitor the situation. Our hope is that we will have the “all clear” by late afternoon on Tuesday, October 21st.

We will keep our patrons and community notified through the district's parent notification system, as well as through social media (district website, district Facebook and Twitter pages).”

Read more on Moore Public Schools' website.

Dr. Romines, superintendent of Moore Public Schools, will hold a press conference 1 p.m. Monday concerning his decision to keep students and employees who were on the cruise with the Dallas hospital lab technician out of school and away from work on Monday. A representative of the health department will also be at the press conference. 

The press conference will be held at the Administrative Service Center for Moore Public Schools, located at 1500 S.E. 4th Street. It will be held in the front entrance of the building.

Greg Kasbaum, Associate Superintendent for the Noble Public Schools district, issued the following statement,

"The district is taking an abundance of caution. They have asked the students/faculty involved to self quarantine until officially cleared by the CDC. Both faculty and parents have been very understanding."

Officials with the Mustang Public Schools issued a statement early Monday morning, asking a Centennial teacher who was on the cruise ship to stay home on Monday. 

At about 9 a.m. Monday, the district issued another statement saying they have been assured that the lab worker has been symptom free 21 days as of Monday. So students and staff who were on the cruise ship are free to return to school on Tuesday if they stayed home Monday. Health officials said it's safe for all students to attend school. 

Mustang Public Schools district issued the following statement at about 9 a.m.,

"Mustang administration has been in contact with the health department this morning. The health department gets their direction from the CDC. We have been assured the lab worker has been symptom free for 21 days as of today and there should be no restrictions on anyone who was on the cruise ship from attending school or work. According to health officials, it's safe for all students to attend school.

Students and staff who were on the cruise ship are free to return to school tomorrow if they stayed home today.

If a parent kept their child home as a precaution today, the absence will not count against them. By law it has to be counted as an absence, but it will not count toward their total when determining eligibility or credits."

Stay with News 9 for updates on this developing story.