Lowcountry school districts tout safety amid tuberculosis outbre - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Lowcountry school districts tout safety amid tuberculosis outbreak in Greenwood County

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Schools in the lowcountry are reviewing their protocols for dealing with communicable disease exposures. Schools in the lowcountry are reviewing their protocols for dealing with communicable disease exposures.
CHARLESTON, SC -

Amid the tuberculosis outbreak at a Greenwood County School, schools in the lowcountry are reviewing their protocols for dealing with communicable disease exposures.

According to DHEC over 70 people connected with Ninety Six Primary School in Greenwood County had positive skin tests for tuberculosis.  Twelve have developed tuberculosis with over 600 tested.

DHEC: Dozens in SC infected with tuberculosis

10 more test positive for tuberculosis exposure

Susan Smyre Haire, Public Information Officer for Berkeley County School District, says that safety is the Berkeley County School District's highest priority. Throughout the year, the district works collaboratively and closely with health-focused partners-including the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control-to ensure the health of students and employees.

Dorchester County Schools tell News 2 if a student or employee develop a communicable disease they notify DHEC and strictly follow the guidelines they present.

Charleston County School District has yet to respond to News 2 regarding their policy on communicable disease outbreaks.

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Below is the Berkeley County School District's policy concerning communicable diseases:

Health screening  
 
The district will not initially hire any person to work in any public school or kindergarten until that person has been appropriately evaluated for tuberculosis according to guidelines approved by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The district will not require re-evaluation for employment in consecutive years unless otherwise indicated by such guidelines.  
 
Any person applying for a position in any of the district's schools, including kindergarten, will, as a prerequisite to employment, secure a health certificate from a licensed physician certifying that such person does not have tuberculosis in an active stage.  
 
The physician will make the aforesaid certificate on a form supplied by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.  

If the district has questions or concerns regarding the physical or mental capability of an employee to perform the essential functions of his/her position with or without reasonable accommodations, the district may require an appropriate health examination.  
 
Communicable diseases  
 
The board defines a chronic communicable disease as a persistent or recurring infection that may be transmitted to a susceptible person by contact with an infected individual. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be the definitive authority on the identification and transmission of chronic communicable diseases.  
 
It is the policy of the district to protect the health of members of the community by implementing a program of education, prevention and reporting with respect to chronic communicable diseases in cooperation with state and local public health agencies.  
 
The policy of the board will be to attempt to provide a safe and secure environment for all students and employees. Under certain circumstances, the presence of communicable diseases in the school environment may pose a threat to the health and safety of students and employees. In an effort to maintain a balance between the need to educate all eligible students, to protect student and employee rights and to control communicable diseases, decisions regarding the employment status of employees with communicable diseases will be made on a case-by case basis, as set forth in procedures developed by the administration.  
 
Every employee has a duty to treat as highly confidential any knowledge or speculation concerning the HIV status of a student or other staff member. Information regarding the medical condition of employees and students must be maintained in strict confidence and may only be revealed consistent with state law and regulation.  
 
Bloodborne pathogens  
 
The district has an exposure-control plan for employees. The plan includes appropriate annual training for employees as well as universal precautions that employees must follow when dealing with blood and other bodily fluids. All employees are required to consistently follow infection control guidelines in all settings and at all times, including playgrounds and school buses. Schools will operate according to the standards promulgated by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for the prevention of bloodborne infections. Equipment and supplies needed to apply the infection control guidelines will be maintained and kept reasonably accessible. A copy of the plan is on file in the district and in the principal's office of each school.  
 
If a situation occurs at school in which a person might have been exposed to an infectious agent, such as an instance of blood-to-blood contact, school authorities will counsel that person (or, if a minor, alert a parent/legal guardian) to seek appropriate medical evaluation.  
 
Adopted 10/27/92; Revised 8/23/05, 9/14/10, 1/11/11  

Legal references:  
 
South Carolina Code, 1976, as amended:  

Section 44-29-150 and 160 - Tuberculin test required of new employees.
Section 44-29-200 - Attendance of teachers or pupils with contagious or  infectious  disease may be prohibited.  
 
Federal regulations:  
 
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, CFR 1910.134 - Respiratory protection.  
U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, CFR 1910.1030 - Bloodborne pathogens.  
 
State Board of Education Regulations:  
 
R-43-207 - All personnel will be screened for tuberculosis.

South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Regulations:  
 
R-61-20 - Communicable diseases.
 
R-61-22 - Evaluation of school employees for tuberculosis.

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