Testing and tuberculosis

Irene Luna, Editor-in-Cheif

At the monthly scheduled PTA meeting on March 12, Principal Tom Houts invited members of the Health Department to talk about the tuberculosis scare on campus, in addition to dealing with other monthly business.

First and foremost, the principal began with an overview of the events to come, like the Sadie Hawkin’s Dance on March 23 and the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) testing that all sophomores must go through.  Houts went over the school day schedule for the testing dates, which were March 13 and 14.  All sophomores were to report to school as if it were a normal day, while freshmen, juniors and seniors did not have to show up until 11:10.  The tuberculosis scare caused the scheduling to be arranged in a “funky” way and the only ways to be sure that this testing method worked was the overall score and the attendance.  The principal was hoping for a bigger turn out at the meeting than the approximately 25 parents and teachers, since he even had a dialer sent out to all student homes.

On Houts’ principal report was a new idea for Family Fun Night.  Instead of it actually being Family Fun Night, it would be a mixture of Family Fun Night, Open House, and Freshman Orientation for people in the community to have fun on the campus.  The proposed date for this is May 10.  The principal also recapped the competitive March Madness-themed fundraiser for the TLC program in the city of Downey.  DHS alone raised $43,747 dollars, which is well over their goal of $20,000.

On a much more serious note, Principal Houts introduced the Health Department representatives Kristin Mundy, Dr. Liggins, and Dr. Alvarez.

Mundy went through the whole process of testing and the standard deviations they must do in order to find out whom to test.  First, anyone who had direct, prolonged contact with the infected individual must be tested as they have the highest risk factors of contracting the infection.  Then anyone who has a medium to low risk factor is tested and so on and so forth.  She also made sure to mention that anyone who is infected will get free medication to battle the bacteria in the body, and just because a student tested positive for TB does not mean they contracted the disease at school.

Dr. Liggins elaborated on the difference between TB disease and TB infection.  TB disease is when one has active symptoms of the disease and is able to spread the virus to others, while TB infection is when the person has no active symptoms of the infection.  Liggins also provided a Frequently Asked Questions: Tuberculosis sheet for anyone who had further inquiries in both English and Spanish.

Dr. Alvarez, the director of the Los Angeles Center for TB Control talked about certain scenarios where one can contract TB and how they deal with the situation.  He specifically used DHS as an example.  The infectious student was notified in May 2011 and stopped attending school on a doctor’s notice.  Then, another student contracted the disease in Oct. 2011, but it is unsure as to where this student contracted this disease.  There is still no direct correlation between the two cases.

The three representatives opened the floor for questions from parents.  The most popular question was “will my child be infected” and the answer clearly depended on how much exposure time the healthy student had with the infected one.

Gordon Weisenberger introduced sophomore class representatives to talk about events that have happened since the last PTA meeting.  An anti-drug/smoking rally and the TLC assemblies were both presentations all students on campus were involved with.

Then Principal Houts took the last few minutes to talk about the Third Annual Downey High’s Botany Tomato and Pepper Plant sale, which will take place over the course of three Saturday’s.  Botany teacher Gregory Pittenger is hoping to rake in about $6,000 dollars from this sale, which is double than the last year’s profits and would be triple since 2010.

There is no definite date set for the next PTA meeting because the School Board invited the PTA to a ceremony at Rio Hondo Country Club honoring Robert Chism and the varsity girls’ soccer team on their CIF Championships, but there is a prediction that it will be in early May.