My View on Ebola Changed in Just One Email
Twenty-four hours ago I couldn't have told you the name of the 2nd nurse in Dallas to contract Ebola. I couldn't give you any information on where she'd been, who she'd come in contact with, or even her name. That changed by the time I hit the 3rd paragraph.
I'm the "play-it-cool" parent in my household. My wife's crisis management usually consists of a freak out, followed by hours of worst-case-scenario. But after reading the email that was sent home to parents of students at two Belton schools last night, admittedly, I was with her. It's not that I think there's even a 1-in-100,000,000 chance that either of the two students in Belton schools actually have Ebola, but even if the chance is 1-in-a-billion, I'm not taking chances with a virus that carries a 70% fatality rate.
I'm not Chicken Little. Even after deciding Logan wasn't going to school for the time-being I still didn't see any of the events in Belton as something to make me worry. After listening to the press conference from Belton ISD's offices, my mind changed quickly. Even if there's a majority that considers this is nothing to worry about, the way the risk was downplayed combined with the three people at the press conference's indifference to the concerns of parents convinced me I was being hoodwinked.
Either health officials weren't being honest about the risk in their communication with the district, or BISD was downplaying the risk to prevent public panic. I didn't want to be one of those people. I didn't want Shepherd Smith at Fox News to think I was screaming, "The sky is falling!". But it happened.
Belton ISD's reactionary approach to what was going on was just too much. The social media backlash came fast and furious. Just two hours after the press conference that tried to assure us that we were all part of the problem for worrying so much, the school sent an email announcing the two students' parents were voluntarily pulling them out of school for the 21-day "wait-and-see" period. Still, the email seemed to be more focused on reminding parents that there was an attendance policy that needed to be followed.
It was three hours after the 2nd email that the 3rd and final email was sent, announcing the closing of three schools in Belton ISD. My son's school and two other campuses were going on lockdown to thoroughly disinfect the entire school. North Belton Middle School, Sparta Elementary & Belton's Early Education school are the three schools affected. That's where we should have started, and if necessary, work back from there.
I spent the late afternoon and into the evening trying to balance being a responsible journalist and being a dad to a child directly involved. Am I supposed to get on the radio and downplay the situation when I wasn't sending my son to school? Talk about hypocrisy. I can't say one thing on the radio and do the opposite in my own home.
For all those on social media that fancy themselves as an amateur Sanjay Gupta and point & laugh at those of us worried about this, why don't you volunteer to take shifts at the house of those two students babysitting to give the parents a break during their 21-day monitoring period? Or better yet, why don't you just volunteer your kids to go play at the house of the two students to give them some relief from the boredom? Didn't think so.
I understand Belton ISD was only going on the information they were being given by government health officials, but when's the last time we really trusted what we were being fed by Big Brother? I'm hoping in another 18 days both students (and the hundreds of others potentially involved) are given the all-clear and this just goes away, but we don't know enough at this moment to be sure. I'm erring on the side of caution on this situation.