SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP/WJLA) - Fairfax County health officials want all 1,900 students, faculty, and support staff at Robert E. Lee High School in Springfield to be tested for tuberculosis – a potentially deadly disease that typically attacks the lungs.
“We really are hoping that people are taking this seriously,” said Glorida Addo Ayensu, the Fairfax County Director of Health.
Just last month it was announced that three students had contracted and were recovering from the bacterial infection, and a high-risk group of 430 students were called in for testing. A week later, health officials determined that an additional 60 students could have been exposed outside of school. But out of those 490 students, officials have not been able to reach 40 percent of them due to the fact that it is currently summer break.
Parent Blandine Annan said, “I'm really concerned because I don't want my child to get sick.” Annan feels like this potential health crisis should have been taken much more seriously back in June, saying that the school should have been in touch with students and parents earlier.
Students Danyal Sahi and Mauricio Romero tested negative back in June, but now they wanted to be tested again – just in case.
"It does concern me because as a football player I get into contact with a lot of other players,” said Sahi.
"The Health Department, out of an abundance of caution, concluded that the expansion is prudent based on multiple factors that included higher-than-expected skin test positivity rate among those who have been tested so far," officials said in a statement.
Officials say that there is no ongoing transmission of tuberculosis on the Lee High School campus and that the "vast majority" of students and staff were not exposed. However, officials did identify 20 more people who meet the criteria of significant exposure to the disease.
It's all amounted to a stressful summer for students.
“My sister was really worried, and she said get tested just in case,” says student Carla Martinez. “But I came here and they said I didn't need to. But now I have to.”
Testing will take place on these five days early next month:Testing Return for results August 3, 8 a.m. - noon August 5, noon - 4 p.m. August 3, noon - 6 p.m. August 6, 8 a.m. - noon August 5, 8 a.m. - noon August 7, noon - 4 p.m. August 6, 8 a.m. - noon August 8, noon - 4 p.m. August 10, 8 a.m. - noon August 12, noon - 4 p.m.