9 Texas districts spent nearly $117K during Ebola scare

Nine Texas school districts spent a total of nearly $117,000 to clean campuses and protect students and staff amid concerns about the possible spread of Ebola when a man infected with the virus died in Dallas, according to a newspaper's review.

The districts, mainly in the Dallas area, last fall paid for precautionary cleaning even though medical professionals declared it unnecessary, the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/1ukezeQ ) reported. The figures came from the newspaper's public information requests to the school districts.

Thomas Duncan was visiting North Texas from Liberia and staying at a Dallas apartment complex when he was diagnosed with Ebola. He died Oct. 8 at a Dallas hospital. Two nurses were infected, but survived.

Several Dallas schools in the neighborhood where Duncan had stayed were cleaned after authorities identified five students who may have come into contact with him. None of the children exhibited Ebola symptoms, health officials said.

The Belton Independent School District, in Central Texas, about 120 miles southwest of Dallas, spent nearly $36,000 for precautionary cleaning. The district temporarily closed three campuses after a family, including two students, traveled on the same out-of-state flight as one of the nurses.

"We didn't want to take risks, especially with the heightened level of concern among parents," said Superintendent Susan Kincannon. "I'm proud of the way we responded to a crisis, given a lack of information across the state. We handled it about as well as we could have done."

The Dallas County Medical Society issued a statement around the time the Belton ISD was cleaning its property, saying, "There is no evidence to support `a deep cleaning' or similar actions for schools or school buses related to the current Ebola situation. Such measures also would send the wrong message about the risk of contracting the disease."

Lago Vista, near Austin, disinfected facilities after a family associated with the district visited a patient at the hospital where Duncan died. The district spent $1,465, according to the newspaper.

"People were absolutely just freaking out," said Dawson Orr, superintendent of the Dallas-area Highland Park district, which spent $13,000 to clean schools and purchase aerosol germicidal spray.

The Garland ISD spent nearly $32,000. The Burleson, Eagle Mountain-Saginaw, Grapevine-Cooley, Hurst-Euless-Bedford and Royse City school districts spent lesser amounts.