- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

BELTON, Texas (AP) - A Central Texas school district has temporarily closed three of its campuses after a family of four, including two students from the district, traveled on the same flight as a nurse who has since been diagnosed with Ebola.

The Belton Independent School District expects to reopen the schools on Monday. Campuses and some school buses were disinfected on Thursday by the same decontamination firm that cleaned Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where Thomas Eric Duncan died of Ebola on Oct. 8.

The three schools - Belton Early Childhood School, Sparta Elementary and North Belton Middle - will remain closed Friday to allow additional time to clean and disinfect the campuses, said Superintendent Susan Kincannon. The students, ages 8 and 13, attended the elementary and middle school, and the early childhood school was closed primarily because students there move through elementary schools at some point during the day.

The nurse, Amber Vinson, was diagnosed with Ebola on Wednesday. She flew Monday from Cleveland to Dallas with a mild fever. She is the second nurse who treated Duncan to test positive for Ebola.

Dr. Janice Smith of the Bell County Public Health District said the children and one parent are considered safe, but one of the parents is considered “at risk” for Ebola; at risk means someone was within 3 feet of Vinson. She said the whole family is voluntarily quarantined.

Ebola patients aren’t considered contagious until they have symptoms. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director has said it’s unlikely that others on the plane were at risk because Vinson wasn’t vomiting or bleeding.

But Smith said they’ve asked the family to stay in their home, where a daughter celebrated her 13th birthday on Thursday.

“I’m sure it will be a birthday she will remember,” said Bell County Health District Epidemiologist Lacey Sanders.

Three students from Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District outside of Dallas were also on the flight with Vinson. They stayed home Thursday, but their schools were open.

Heather Willden of the school district said none of the three were exhibiting any symptoms of the virus, but they stayed home Thursday and planned to stay home Friday as well “for precautionary reasons.”


Associated Press writers Matt Sedensky, Nomaan Merchant and Martha Mendoza in Dallas contributed to this report.

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