An elementary school teacher in Maine has been placed on leave for 21 days, the incubation period of Ebola, after she visited Dallas to attend an educational conference. The teacher did not come into contact with anybody who had tested positive for the virus, but did stay at a hotel “exactly 9.5 miles away from Texas Health Presbyterian,” where Ebola patients have been treated.
The school district attributed its decision to “parents’ concerns,” presumably about the teacher transmitting Ebola to their children. But if the school board’s criteria for leave were applied to everyone, the entire city of Dallas would have to stay home from work. About 5 million people within the United States travel to or through Dallas each month.
Fears about Ebola, often without any medical justification, are impacting people across the country. Middle school students were pulled out of school in Mississippi after the principal visited Zambia, a country about 3,000 miles from the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Michel du Cille, a photographer for the Washington Post, was “disinvited by Syracuse University from participation in a journalism workshop.” The decision was made because he visited Liberia a few weeks ago, despite the fact that he did not develop any symptoms of Ebola in the 21-day maximum incubation period.