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Ebola Information

Ebola is not spread through casual contact, air, water, or food.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is working closely with the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to monitor the spread of the Ebola virus. As of this time, there have been very few occurrences of Ebola in the United States and none in Montgomery County or Maryland. However, MCPS is committed to being prepared should Ebola become a concern in our community.

It is important to remember that Ebola is NOT spread through casual contact, air, water, or food.  

 

Ebola can only spread to others who have direct contact with:

  • The blood or body fluids of a person who has Ebola and is showing symptoms 
  • Objects contaminated with the virus, such as needles or medical equipment
  • The blood or fluids of infected animals or the meat of infected animals
 

If a person has been exposed to the disease but does not develop symptoms within 21 days, they will not become sick with Ebola.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has a lot of helpful information about Ebola on its website at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html. This information is also available in Spanish at http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/spanish/index.html.

The Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services also has a helpful website: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/ebola  

Frequently Asked Questions About Ebola

Q.

Is MCPS changing its enrollment procedures because of Ebola?

 
A.

Enrollment procedures have not changed. As is standard practice in MCPS, a student who is sick with any illness will not be allowed to attend school until all symptoms subside.

Q.

What happens if a student becomes ill at school with symptoms that are similar to Ebola?

 
A.

The symptoms of Ebola are very similar to the symptoms of other illnesses that are common in schools, including influenza and stomach viruses. The DHHS’ School Health Services has sent guidance to its school-based health staff about what steps should be taken if a student has a fever of 100.4 degrees (F) or higher or other symptoms, such as a headache, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, unexplained bleeding or bruising, and muscle pain.
If a student has a fever or one or more other symptoms, the student’s parent/guardian will be contacted immediately and asked if the student, has traveled to a country with widespread Ebola transmission (currently, Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone) in the past 21 days.  Travel histories of the student’s family members and close contacts are not needed, as a result of daily active monitoring by the state or county of all persons who have traveled to a country with widespread Ebola transmission.

If the student has a fever or other symptoms and has traveled to a country with widespread Ebola transmission, the student will be isolated, the health room will be closed, and the DHHS Disease Control Program will be contacted immediately. These actions will be taken in an abundance of caution as it is still unlikely that the student has Ebola. Similar protocols and questions will be used if a staff member begins exhibiting symptoms at school.

Q.

What other ways will MCPS make sure that Ebola and other illnesses do not spread throughout the school?

 
A.

MCPS already has existing protocols for cleaning and sanitizing its schools that are helpful in keeping illness from spreading. MCPS regularly cleans and sanitizes frequently touched areas, such as door knobs, stair rails, telephones, computer keyboards, and bathroom faucets and fixtures. MCPS also has established guidelines and protocols pdf for cleaning blood and/or body fluids and sanitizing areas that may have come into contact with the blood and/or body fluids of someone who is ill.

MCPS also encourages its students and staff to—

  • Wash hands often with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers, especially before eating and after using the bathroom;
  • Cover coughs with a disposable tissue or cough into their sleeve;
  • Cover all open breaks in the skin and wounds;
  • Avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Avoid hugging and close contact with sick individuals;
  • Avoid sharing cups and eating utensils; and, most importantly;
  • Stay home when sick.
  • Get an annual flu shot.
 
Q.

How can parents/guardians help keep illnesses from spreading in schools?

 
A.

Encourage your children to follow all of the above strategies and make sure they get a good night’s sleep, eat well, and get plenty of exercise. It is very important that parents DO NOT send sick children to school. If your child or someone in your household is not feeling well and has returned from traveling to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone in the past 21 days, it is important they seek the advice of a medical professional immediately. CDC travel advisory information >>  

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