Caught the Cough?

FHS administrators handle Whooping Cough outbreak spreading within school.

Rachel Singleton, Editor-in-Cheif

Check out: Not What You’re Thinking Of
A few weeks ago, concerns over a pertussis outbreak in FHS spread throughout the school. Administrators worked on making sure everyone was informed on what was going on.
Procedures must be followed when it comes to contagious diseases like pertussis. “What happens with whooping cough, because it is contagious, doctors that detect that in school-aged children are required to contact the health department,” said principal Kraig Kelican. “When you have one case of it, it is just a case. When you have two or more, it’s considered an outbreak [as defined by the health department].”
Once the health department is notified, they become involved. The health department gives the school a document and a letter that includes all the instructions and numbers to call, and the school passes this information onto parents. “We passed that document on twice, sent it out on email,” said Kelican.
He added that the school followed the all parameters required by the health department. The nurse and school administration have also made sure to provide any information to those who want to know what was going on.
Although the school has done its best to inform others on the situation, they are not permitted to give out any names of those with pertussis because of privacy policies. “We can’t share anything such as who had it or what classes they were in. People have asked for that, wanting to know if their child was in class with them. We can’t tell them,” said Kelican.
Kelican said what the school can say is the following, “If you’re determined to have pertussis, the recommendation from the health department is that you stay home for five days while you are on an approved antibiotic regimen. Some kids did that, some kids didn’t. But, that’s one of the reasons I came on the announcements, so kids know what’s out there, [and] what’s happening with the school.”
Rumors circulated that FHS would shut down if the school reached a specific number of pertussis cases, and its students would be shipped to other schools in the county. However, Kelican came on the schools PA and discredited this rumor.
Once students were informed about the pertussis outbreak, many were concerned for their well-being. Senior Caroline Austin wore a surgical mask to school for this reason. “I was scared of getting sick. I hadn’t had my updated shot, so I didn’t want to take any chances,” said Austin.
Another student, senior Aurora Perrius decided to speak up on the issue and started an online petition which has 117 signatures as of November 17. “I believe it’d be safer and healthier for everyone if unvaccinated kids were not allowed In public schools. I understand the controversy of it, but it could potentially help many people,” said Perrius.
Perrius states in her petition that her sister, Ana Perrius, has cystic fibrosis “which means she has extra coatings of mucus on her lungs.” Perrius said, “Whooping cough effects you by producing more mucus until your lungs can’t expand enough to breath. Which can cause death.”
Perrius believe the administration should take more control over the situation. “I emailed the health director of Fauquier County, Pam Trude, and she informed me that cases of pertussis at Fauquier High were increasing. The school should be excusing absences because of this situation,” said Perrius. “I have heard that students that have it don’t want to stay home because if they have to many absences they will have to take finals. This is, one, preventing students from full recovery which can be up to 21 days and, two. spreading it to other students by attending school.”