Discovery Charter School faces chickenpox outbreak

2013-09-26T18:04:00Z 2013-09-27T11:05:14Z Discovery Charter School faces chickenpox outbreakCarmen McCollum carmen.mccollum@nwi.com, (219) 662-5337 nwitimes.com

PORTER | Six students at Discovery Charter School have chickenpox and another 40 students were excluded from school Wednesday and Thursday because they don't have current immunizations.

Principal Ernesto Martinez sent a note home to all parents Tuesday saying the school is experiencing an outbreak of chickenpox, and students may have been exposed to someone with the disease.

Martinez said the six children who have chickenpox are spread across  different grade levels. The school serves 493 youngsters in kindergarten through eighth grade.

Martinez's note to parents said, "To interrupt the spread of this disease, we are beginning outbreak control measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on order of the Porter County Health Department.

"If your child has not had chickenpox, or has not had two doses of chickenpox vaccine, he/she will be excluded from school and from school-related extracurricular activities beginning Sept. 25 until 21 days after the last case is diagnosed. Children who get vaccinated and bring proof of vaccination to school will be readmitted immediately."

The letter also said that unvaccinated children with medical reason not to be treated or religious objections to vaccinations are susceptible to chickenpox disease and will be excluded until 21 days after the last case is diagnosed to prevent ongoing disease activity at the school. Currently, the date any unvaccinated student may return to school is Oct. 14, the letter said, adding that date could change depending on additional cases identified at school.

The charter school worked with the Porter County Health Department to get as many children vaccinated as possible. The health department held an immunization clinic at the school Thursday morning.

Discovery Charter School nurse Kristen Byrt said 16 children went through the school's immunization clinic and several other children went to their own doctor. Those students were immediately able to return to their classrooms.

"There is a small percentage of children who still need to be immunized, about 15 students," she said about noon Thursday after the vaccination clinic closed.

Meanwhile, Martinez said the remaining 15 students cited religious objections to the vaccinations. He said he is working with teachers to put together a package replicating the lessons, sending it home to the students until they can return to the classroom.

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