Parents meet with school leaders after tuberculosis health scare

By: Sheli Muniz Email
By: Sheli Muniz Email

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- School leaders called a meeting Wednesday to talk about a health scare.

A high school student may have tuberculosis but it's too soon to say. Still, some parents wish the school had done more to spread the word.

It all started late last week when Butler High School officials found out about a suspected case of tuberculosis.

News 12 first told you about some parents saying they weren't notified.
Meanwhile, school leaders say they are happy with their response.

There was a very low turnout at the Wednesday meeting, with less than a dozen parents showing up at the school. Some argue that's because no one knew about it, others say it's being blown out of proportion.

The rumor mill usually churns at a high school, but it's been on overdrive at Butler.

"The word TB can be frightening to many people," Registered Nurse Kim Taylor Brown told the group of parents.

Just the mention of a suspected case is causing an outbreak of concern.

Vanessa Fostor's daughter is a senior at the school.

"Proactive steps need to be taken and parents need to be informed," she said.

William Hammac's daughter is an 11th grade student.

"Why are we just hearing about this?" he asked.

It's exactly what parents were asking Health Department officials and school leaders at a meeting in the school's cafeteria.

Dr. Carol Rountree with the Richmond County School System told News 12, "The entire process takes six to eight weeks, we moved within the very first week that we realized that we had a suspect case."

Rountree says they are being extremely proactive, considering there is no confirmed case.

"I do know that her process was to put it in the book bag to come home and to mail," said Brown, who is also the district TB coordinator.

The school mailed about 200 letters as high priority to those who may have had contact with the suspected student.

But every student got a letter to take home to their parents.

"I think the ball got dropped somewhat with Richmond County," Hammac said.

Some parents say everyone should have been contacted directly.

"Would've been more informative and there would have been a lot more parents here," Hammac said.

Hammac says it explains why only about 10 parents showed up with a student body of more than 900.

News 12's Sheli Muniz asked, "Despite any arguments any parent would make, we're happy with response here?"

Rountree responded, "We are because it let us know there was not a lot of great deal of anxiety because we didn't have overwhelming number of parents seeking more information."

News 12 has received a number of calls from concerned parents about the school bus. A couple of schools ride buses with Butler students like C.T. Walker.

The nurse tells News 12 a bus is not considered a confined space where one would transmit the disease. She says there is air circulating on a bus.

Meanwhile, the school will be offering testing to those 200 students next Tuesday.

Again, there is no confirmed case at this time. It will take about six to eight weeks for final results.

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