Five students who have been kept home while under observation after coming in contact with the first U.S. Ebola patient will soon return to school. The district has taken additional steps to address some of the psychosocial needs to calm any remaining fears.
“One of the messages we have for everyone is practice good hygiene,” said Connie Rodriguez, director of psychological and social services.
Connie Rodriguez heads the district’s Psychological and Social Services department. She says everyone must continue to use “common sense” behaviors. Methods such as washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing and staying home when you’re sick, helps prevent the spread of any virus. But she says, in the case of the five students who will soon return to class …
“If you have been nowhere near someone who is contagious, and showing the symptoms that is what makes you contagious, you have nothing to worry about, ” said Rodriguez.
“They were only exposed to a person who had Ebola virus disease, and they never had the disease and currently do not have Ebola virus disease,” Moemeka said.
In anticipation of the Homebound Program students’ return, Counseling and Psychological Services was on hand to provide guidance lessons, like these, and they went inside the classroom to lead those discussions.
Class-by-class, both teachers and students heard from various counselors. The lessons focused on maintaining good hygiene habits, while also addressing the potential that the returning students would be bullied, something Rodriguez says the district has zero tolerance for.
“All we’re doing is just reminding them that bullying is not acceptable and it is not accepted, “ Rodriguez said.
Dr. Moemeka believes the district is tackling a real critical need that helps push fears aside.
“Really focus on reintegrating them into the school environment and not ostracizing them or making them feel that this is a burden they have to carry.”
Speaking with several teachers and staff at the schools said they are happy and excited to welcome their students back, because when that happens, they say a sense of normalcy will return.