The Porter County Health Department, in accordance with the standards of the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the Indiana Department of Health, has
declared an outbreak of chickenpox at the Dunes Discovery Charter School,
800 Canonie Drive, in Porter.
Discovery Director Ernesto Martinez and School Nurse Kristen Byrt told the
Chesterton Tribune this morning that since Tuesday the school has had
five confirmed cases of the disease and two suspected cases in various
County Health Department Administrator Keith Letta said that according to
the state department of health, an outbreak situation is declared once five
or more persons in a single unit or school contract the disease.
Once that happens, all students who have not received vaccinations are sent
home and may not be readmitted until they have received their vaccines,
State regulations require that students in Indiana receive two doses of the
vaicella (chickenpox) vaccine prior to entering school or provide a
documented history of having the disease, Letta said. However, parents can
file a waiver with the school due to medical reasons or religious
objections. Those students will be excluded from school 21 days after the
last case of chickenpox is diagnosed according to state code, Letta said.
Martinez said about 40 students were excluded from school earlier this week
but the majority have returned, having received the vaccinations. As of this
morning, Martinez said 15 students are still excluded from school because of
religious objection to the vaccine while two are excluded due to medical
reasons. Those students will have their lessons sent home to them.
Byrt said those students will be able to return to school on Oct. 16 instead
of Oct. 14 as previously stated. Notices will go out to parents this
afternoon, she said.
Martinez said he had earlier this week sent a letter home with students
explaining the measures the school would be following as ordered by the CDC
and the Porter County Health Department.
On Thursday morning the County Health Department set up a clinic at the
school and vaccinated a total of 16 students. Others were vaccinated by
their family physicians. Those students were allowed to return to class,
said Connie Rudd, director of nursing for the County Health Department.
Rudd said once a student receives the vaccine, his or her body immediately
begins to produce antibodies to build up immunity so if the student should
contract the disease, the symptoms will most likely be mild.
Martinez added that he would like to express his gratitude to Byrt on behalf
of his staff and board of directors for her professional and helpful effort
in handling the outbreak situation.