Child returning from W. Africa banned from school for 21 days due to Ebola fear, family sues

Child returning from W. Africa banned from school for 21 days due to Ebola fear, family sues

This one’s a judgment call. Here’s the back story: A third-grader living in Connecticut is taken to Lagos, Nigeria, for a family wedding. The family returns home to the U.S. and attempts to re-enter its daily routine, which includes dropping the child off at school. But she is turned away. The explanation is that she has been barred from attending for 21 days out of concern that she may be infected with Ebola. The family responds by filing a lawsuit against the school, claiming “discrimination.”

From CNN:

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday, alleges that Ikeoluwa Opayemi was not allowed to return to Meadowside Elementary School in Milford “based on fears” of the deadly Ebola outbreak in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The family attorney, Gary Phelan, is quoted as saying, “I think it’s outrageous how this child was treated. At some point, making a medical decision has to be based on medical information, not fear.”

So is he right? Consider the facts: According to the World Health Organization, Nigeria, which is 1,800 miles from the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak, has not had a case of the deadly infectious disease in 42 days. That statistic, by nature, reveals of course that the nation has had Ebola cases — 19 of them, in fact, including 7 deaths.

Superintendent Elizabeth Feser submits that there is reasonable cause for an abundance of caution. In a statement Wednesday, she said:

In addressing this situation, at all times, my staff and I proceeded in good faith to respond to this public health issue. We acted in the best interest of all of our students and staff.

Phelan noted, moreover, that the decision to keep the child out of school came after complaints from parents of her classmates.

The lawsuit, in case you were wondering, has been filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act. How the attorney plans to make the argument that (1) the child is disabled and (2) that the school is discriminating against on those grounds should be interesting to watch.

One parting note about the parenting in this story. As with the case of the 5-year-old who was taken to Guinea and returned with Ebola-like symptoms, what responsible parent would take his child to a region of the globe ravaged by a deadly disease? Children this young don’t have a say in where their parents take them. If the adults in the family were willing to risk traveling to a country that has had an Ebola outbreak, that is one thing. But to expose an 8-year-old to even the remotest risk is unconscionable.

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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