Last week, 37 students were pulled out of class and sent to the office of Marysville High School in Michigan. There they were told that two separate cases of chickenpox had been confirmed at their school and that they would have to leave immediately and not come back until they could prove their immunity to the disease.
Their parents were also informed of the situation, and many of them are angry, in a vague anti-vaxxer way, according to a story in the Time Herald. Are these parents anti-vaxxers? Not exactly.
The school district “showed total disregard for the emotional welfare or physical safety of the students who were forced to leave school grounds, and not being able to return for 2 weeks,” said Stacy DeShon, the mother of one of the students. She added that they were “shamed for not being up to date on their vaccinations,” which doesn’t seem to be true.
Another parent, Vicki Lansky, had two kids pulled out of class. “Don’t trample on my kids’ rights; don’t trample on my privacy,” she said at a protest yesterday at the school. Lansky also said that, as a working parent, having to pick up her kids in the middle of the day was a big inconvenience.
For their part, the school district and St. Clair County Health Department says they did everything by the book and in the best interests of the student body.
Dr. Annette Mercatante, a Medical Health Officer for the county, said that two or more cases constitute an outbreak. Michigan law requires school districts to provide information on the immunization status of students to the local health department if an outbreak is ongoing.
“In accordance with Michigan Public Health Code, all exposed susceptible students were discreetly brought down to the school’s office and respectfully informed of the situation,” Marysville Superintendent Shawn Wightman said in a statement.
The move is designed to halt the spread of the disease.
“Although the clinical course in healthy children is generally mild, adults may have more severe symptoms and higher incidence of complications,” Mercatante said. “Children with cancer or HIV may develop a severe progressive form of the disease.”
The students are slated to return to school on October 7, but that date could be pushed back if new cases emerge.
And of course, if these students and their parents are able to prove their immunity by, say, getting the chickenpox vaccine, they could return to school immediately.