Under Section 109 of the School Act, School Boards are responsible for protecting students from exposure to a child with a serious communicable disease. The School Board will base its decision upon the advice of the Medical Health Officer and deal with each situation in accordance with the following regulations.
AIDS AND HIV INFECTIONS
Children and adults with a diagnosis of AIDS are those with the most serious form of illness related to HIV infection. There are many more persons who are infected with the virus, perhaps unknowingly, and who have either a mild illness or no signs of infection at all.
The majority of infected children acquire the virus from their infected mothers in the perinatal period. In utero or intrapartum, transmission occurs and at least one case has been reported in which breast milk transmission was the probable mechanism. Sexual transmission is only likely with youth in their later teens and with adults.
The issue of concern is whether the child with HIV infection can transmit the infection to classmates and staff, and under what circumstances transmission is likely to occur.
RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH SCHOOL ATTENDANCE
A. Risks of Infection to Classmates and Staff
In the everyday social contact setting of the school environment, there is no risk of transmission of the virus among children and staff. There is a theoretical potential for transmission when open skin sores or broken mucous membranes come in contact with blood or other body fluids of an infected person. These circumstances are more likely to occur in institutions for very young children who still lack bowel and/or bladder control and are diapered.
Also mentally handicapped children who lack control of their secretions and excretions or who exhibit aggressive behavior, such as biting or striking, pose a higher risk.
B. Risks of the Child's Environment to the Child
The infected child may have immune system damage which renders the youngster more susceptible to infectious diseases such as chicken pox, measles, herpes simplex and cytomegalovirus. The risk to the child is greater in the school or day care setting than in the home. In specific disease contact situations this risk can be reduced by the prompt use of appropriate immunoglobulin.
The diagnosis of AIDS or associated illnesses evokes fear and even panic in most persons in contact with the infected individual. To prevent social isolation and ostracism by classmates and teachers, confidentiality and child's right to privacy must be paramount when the safety of employees and students is not a concern.
C. Risk of Transmission by Infected Adult
Teachers and other staff who have an HIV infection pose no risks to other staff or students since casual social contact does not allow for the exchange of infectious body fluid.
A. School Age Children
Since blood and body fluids may carry various infectious agents, all schools should be encouraged to adopt good hygiene practices for handling environmental soiling by blood, urine, stool, vomit or other body fluids. School personnel involved in such cleaning should be taught to avoid exposure of open skin lesions or mucous membranes to blood or body fluids.