Superintendent addresses rumor

Ponca City Now - May 7, 2015 9:57 am

School Superintendent Dr. David Pennington sent a letter home to parents Wednesday afternoon addressing a persistent rumor regarding a student in the school system. Here is the entire text of his letter:

May 6, 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

In the world we live in today, where fact and fiction occupy the same space, and where people can share opinions without any accountability, it is sometimes difficult for those entities that have responsibility to act on facts to operate.

For the last 24 hours, the school district and Trout Elementary School have been trying to responsibly deal with a rumor concerning the health of a Trout Elementary student.

The rumor is that a Trout student has contracted Typhoid. As I write this letter at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6, there is not a confirmed case of Typhoid Fever, nor is the Oklahoma State Health Department (OSDH) investigating a report of Typhoid Fever, or any other communicable disease, involving a student of the Ponca City Schools.

This situation has proven public health has an important responsibility. The OSDH has to walk a fine line to protect the public and the rights of individuals who may be suffering from an illness.

The school district relies on the expertise of the OSDH in dealing with issues that may have an effect on the health and well-being of our students and employees.

Privacy laws restrict the OSDH from releasing the name along with the disease the student may have contracted to the school district. However, when the OSDH has determined that a student who attends the Ponca City Public Schools has contracted a communicable disease that can be spread from one person to another, public health will interact with the school district to provide recommendations about prevention and if necessary, exclusion of sick persons. Dependent on the disease and how easily it is spread, the OSDH will collaborate with the schools to provide information to parents and the public. There are some diseases that are communicable but are not easily transmitted from person to person, or do not require notification to other students and employees. In those situations, the OSDH may not recommend any specific guidance to the school district, but they may recommend reinforcing the practice of healthy habits such as washing your hands, using gloves when dealing with bodily fluids, covering your mouth when sneezing, etc.

Typhoid is a disease that is hard to spread. In fact, the disease can only be transmitted through contaminated food. This means that the only way the disease can be transmitted is if an infected individual goes to the restroom, does not wash their hands, uses an ungloved hand to prepare food, and an individual eats that food.

The safety and health of students and staff is the highest priority of the school district. We will always do everything we can to insure the health of our students and staff. We will always follow the directives of the State and Kay County Health Departments, and we will respect the privacy rights of students and staff.


David Pennington, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools


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