Local Jewish Schools Inform Parents About Measles Exposure

(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Several schools in Brooklyn have distributed information provided by the New York City Board of Health concerning the recent outbreak of measles in the community and the risks involved in exposure to infected people.

Over the past few weeks, several individuals in Rockland County, Lakewood and Williamsburg have been diagnosed with measles, and health officials have contacted schools in Boro Park to notify them of a case that has been diagnosed in their neighborhood.

“We received information from the Board of Health about the situation,” Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Melamed, the administrator of Bais Tzipporah, a girls’ school in Boro Park, told Hamodia. “They provided us with documentation to provide our parent body with the protocol for this situation, which will help keep them informed about the situation. The purpose was to caution them, as well as to reassure them about the situation.”

The local mosdos kept in contact with one another, and some expected a certain amount of pushback from parents in this matter. “Our experience,” said Rabbi Melamed, “was one of cooperation and compliance. Some of the parents we contacted had questions, which we answered as per the protocol sent to us by the Board of Health. But we did not have resistance, and they did not feel the message was accusatory. In addition, there was no panic, since there was extensive coverage of the outbreak in the news, and the parents were well aware of what to expect.”

In a conversation with a teacher, Hamodia learned that a staff member in one school was stricken with measles, and the Board of Health ordered that any student not immunized must leave school and not return for twenty-one full days after being vaccinated. Non-compliance with this directive would result in the entire school being padlocked for the duration of the crisis.

“Our school has some students who cannot be vaccinated due to health concerns, and having these unvaccinated students in the school poses serious health risks,” this teacher told Hamodia. “I have two students who had to leave school today, and they will now miss a crucial three weeks of work and social interaction with their peers. I feel terrible for them, but there is no alternative.

“I scrambled to set up a system where the classmates of these girls will call them at night and help them keep up with what they are missing in class, as well as providing some companionship. It’s a sad situation, and each school will have to decide how to cope with it to the best of their ability.”

Parents, too, are conflicted about how to react to the news that their children may be at risk of being exposed to the measles. “I am impressed with the way my daughter’s school handled the situation,” said a parent. “They were responsible and took the proper steps. Yet at the same time, I am distraught at the idea that my children are attending school and sharing their space with children who are unvaccinated. It is quite unsettling that parents would put other children at risk. I feel strongly that parents who choose not to vaccinate their children should form their own schools and allow the majority of parents to have peace of mind.

“I hope this is a wake-up call to these parents, and they should not continue deluding themselves about what is best for their children and for the community,” the parent said.

Updated Thursday, October 25, 2018 at 8:49 pm Teacher-Parent comments