Dear Waco ISD Parents, Students and Staff Members:
The Ebola virus has taken center stage in Central Texas. Most recently, a family from Belton is confirmed to have been aboard a flight with a person who later was determined to have contracted Ebola. The Belton family has children who attend Belton ISD. Subsequently, three Belton schools were closed in an effort prevent the possible spread of exposure.
Like all school districts in Texas, Waco ISD is very concerned and continues to monitor what is happening where citizens are suspected to have been exposed to this deadly virus. We are thankful that as of today no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus exist in McLennan County. However, knowing this can change in an instant, Waco ISD has modified its existing Infectious Disease Control Plan to specifically address the Ebola virus.
The Infectious Disease Control Plan, part of the district's comprehensive Emergency Operations Plan, outlines readiness levels, communications protocol, and proactive measures to mitigate a crisis. The plan has four readiness levels: normal conditions, increased readiness, high readiness and maximum readiness.
In light of what has occurred in Belton, Waco ISD is currently operating under the "increased readiness" level that includes:
- Assuring readiness of health equipment, supplies and facilities
- Addressing any deficiencies in equipment and supplies
- Adding to existing inventory any additional supplies recommended by Centers for Disease Control
- Assuring that parent and staff notification rosters are up-to-date
- Notifying key personnel of emergency operations procedures
In accordance with the IDCP, Waco ISD has:
- Developed and distributed to all school nurses procedures for identifying, handling, isolating and transporting individuals who have exhibited symptoms of the Ebola virus;
- Ordered additional personal protective equipment for all school nurse stations;
- Reviewed with all school nurses the procedures to follow in applying and removing personal protective equipment;
- Assured that all schools have ample quantities of hand sanitizer, hospital strength disinfectant and other cleaning supplies;
- Instructed campus custodians to increase the frequency of sanitizing and disinfecting classrooms, common areas, doorknobs, walls, railings, restrooms and other surfaces routinely touched by children and staff members;
- Ensured that all school buses are sanitized regularly;
- Instructed campus principals to review proper hand washing techniques with students.
The District Crisis Team will continue to monitor the current situation, stay in close contact with the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District, and refine the IDCP as needed. Additionally, Waco ISD annually requires all employees to undergo training in blood borne pathogens as a way to prevent the spread of disease, particularly diseases such as Ebola, that are transmitted through bodily fluid contact.
Parents can also help prevent the spread of illnesses like common colds and influenza by keeping children at home when they are sick. Children should never come to school when experiencing fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
It goes without saying that the Ebola virus is scary and worrisome to all of us. But please know that Waco ISD is doing everything within its power and the information currently available to ensure the health and safety of students and staff.
Read this letter in Spanish
TEA Guidance on Ebola
Centers for Disease Control
Waco-McLennan County Public Health District
Information about Ebola
Information about Influenza