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Infection closes special ed program at Dundee Elementary

Public health — School shutters Life Skills and Structured Learning Center April 16 to prevent spread of hand, foot and mouth disease


After four cases of hand, foot and mouth disease were confirmed at Dundee Elementary School the Life Skills program and Structured Learning Center were closed April 16.

Parents of all students at the school were notified by an email sent out April 15 and then by a letter sent April 16 because it was believed the majority of students had been exposed to the contagious viral illness.

At first, symptoms of the disease include fever, poor appetite, a general sense of feeling unwell and sore throat. After one or two days after the fever starts, blister-like sores can develop in the mouth and lastly a skin rash will appear.

By the time the rash has appeared, the disease will already have been communicable through droplet form (coughing and sneezing) for between three to six days, but it can also be spread skin to skin via the rash.

Moynell Kilgannon-Schmidt, a consulting nurse for the Willamette Education Service District (ESD), which helps operate special education programs in the Newberg School District, was called in April 14 to examine students for signs of the disease.

Initially, one student was sent home after a rash was detected, but Kilgannon-Schmidt examined students again April 15 and found three more cases. In consultation with Yamhill County Public Health, she decided to close the program the following day so that classroom areas could be thoroughly disinfected.

A one-day closure was all that was needed because classes were not held April 17 and 18 due to parent-teacher conferences, a helpful coincidence that gave cleaning crews more time to disinfect and for children to rest and heal. It also gave parents time to be on the lookout for symptoms without risking infection to other students.

The classrooms reopened Monday, but students were not allowed to return to class until two days after the rash has passed, according to Kilgannon-Schmidt.

While the disease is highly contagious, it is not life-threatening and usually affects children younger than 5-years-old.

“It’s a fairly common thing,” Kilgannon-Schmidt said. “It normally occurs in day-care centers.”

The cleaning protocol called for all walls and hard surfaces in the classroom to be wiped down and for carpets to be extracted and floors washed. Plastic toys are to be submerged in bleach water then air dried, plush toys are to be completely removed and the room is locked so that no one may enter.

On Friday in the rest of the school, the hallway carpets were extracted, the music room and library were wiped down, as was the gymnasium and all gym equipment.




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