An American school has apologised for a decision that discouraged two Rwandan school children from reporting to school on Monday over Ebola fears.
The decision, by Howard Yocum Elementary School in Maple Shade, New Jersey, sparked outrage from other parents with children at the school after a note from the school nurse indicated that the youngsters would be subjected to temperature checks three times a day for the next three weeks, the normal incubation period for Ebola, according US Today.
The letter quickly leaked to parents, stirring up fears and prompting the school district to post a note that their parents had voluntarily decided to keep them at home for 21 days, the newspaper reported yesterday.
Rwanda has not recorded any Ebola case while several infections have been reported in the US, with some resulting in deaths, as has been the case in Spain.
More than 4,500 people have so far died from the deadly virus, with the overwhelming majority of the victims being citizens of the embattled West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The school acknowledges that there has not been an Ebola case in Rwanda, claiming that the decision had been taken because it “takes the health of all students and staff very seriously.”
But this has been criticised by some parents with students at the same school. “The kids were from an unaffected area, so I think people are just being paranoid,” Carlos Torres told CBS.
The school said on its website: “Despite the fact that the students are symptom-free and not from an affected area, the parents have chosen to keep their children home past the 21 day waiting period. The family is looking forward to joining the Maple Shade Schools the following week.”
But on Tuesday, the school district changed course and apologised for its rash behaviour, noting on its website that its schools have “become the unwitting ‘face’ of our nations fears with regard to pressing health concerns,” according to US Today.
“None of the actions that have shined the regional light of media exposure on Maple Shade Schools was mean-spirited or ill intended,” writes school superintendent Beth Norcia.
She added that the schools will “consider the unintended consequences of our messages more carefully in the future. No matter how well-intentioned, a message that originated within our schools created conflict and concern within the Maple Shade community. We offer our sincere apologies.”