OK, let’s be clear what is happening in West Africa is horrifying and worthy of a very serious response. However, there have been some really callous and dumb responses. Salon reports some of them of which the most shocking is this:
Howard Yocum Elementary School, in Maple Shade, New Jersey, is across the river from Philadelphia. It’s 146 miles away from a hospital in Maryland, 782 miles from a hospital in Georgia, and 1,475 miles from a hospital in Texas, where Ebola patients are located. However, when parents and school officials heard that two students from the East African country of Rwanda were enrolled, they lost it—even though Rwanda, which has no Ebola cases, is 2,846 miles from the virus’ epicenter, Liberia and Sierra Leone in West Africa.
The school’s staff told teachers (but not parents) that Rwandan students were coming and not to worry. That lit up the rumor mill, and here’s what parents told Fox News:
- “I don’t feel comfortable sending my daughter to school with people who could be infected with Ebola.”
- “Really concerns me. I don’t want to keep my boy out of school.”
- “Don’t smile in my face and have a secret like that.”
- “Stay there until all this stuff is resolved. There’s nobody affected here—let’s just keep it that way.”
As a result, the Rwandan children have been “voluntarily” quarantined by their parents for 21 days, which is the Ebola incubation period. “I don’t think it would hurt,” one parent told Fox News. “You have a lot of children that are involved, so I don’t think it would hurt.”
Really? Do they think those two Rwandan kids will return to class free of stigma?