Davis County School District officials want to know the names of all district employees and students infected with the deadly AIDS virus.
The mandatory reporting provision is part of a proposed policy presented to the school board Tuesday night by Superintendent Richard Kendell.This part of the proposed policy conflicts dramatically to another AIDS school policy being considered by the Utah Department of Health's AIDS Advisory Committee. That policy, which opposes mandatory reporting, says information concerning an infected student's or employee's status must be held in strict confidence.
The Davis policy calls for creation a team composed of a parent, physician, health worker, a teacher, principal and the director of special education to review cases of students and employees with AIDS.
The mandatory notification measure requires parents to inform school principals if their children have AIDS. While there is no state law for such notification, Kendell believes it is necessary to safeguard students and employees.
"We are saying as a district this is part of our policy," he said. "We have said there is an obligation for a parents to report."
The provision requiring students and employees to report AIDS-related infections to supervisors sparked opposition from civil liberty groups who have fought against other mandatory reporting measures in the state.
"It's astounding to me that the school district wants reporting of a disease which is not casually transmitted. Do they expect their students to be involved in high-risk behavior on school property?" asked Robyn E. Blumner, executive director, American Civil Liberities Union of Utah. "Mandatory reporting to such a great number of people would leave the school district open to substantial confidentiality violations, and they may wish to consider what effect this policy may have on their insurance rates."
Board President Sheryl Allen said she believes the state should adopt the mandatory notification position, especially for schoolchildren. She said that district officials should lobby for such a measure with the legislature.
The proposed policy requires that after the principal is notified, the six-person placement team would determine whether an infected student could remain in the classroom or be taught in a restricted home or institutional setting.
"Most students should be allowed to attend school in an unrestricted setting," the proposed policy statement says.
The policy also requires special care and wearing of gloves if near skin lesions, mucous membranes, blood or body fluids of infected people, even though public health officials have repeatedly said that the AIDS virus cannot be spread through casual contact with body fluids.
The policy also calls for the school board to develop an educational program about AIDS for parents, students and educators.
"It may or may not be part of the curriculum. It may be a videotape. We are not prepared to come forward with that program yet," Kendell said.
School board members agreed to vote on the policy at their next meeting Aug. 2. If it passes the school district would be the 17th in the state to adopt an AIDS policy.
However, the state Health Department's AIDS Advisory Committee, which adamantly opposes mandatory reporting, is developing a policy it hopes the State Board of Education will adopt as a model for all school districts.
That proposed policy requires only a three-member review team. That team would determine whether the infected student or employee poses a risk to others - and vice versa. The school administrator will also advise the student's parents of the potential risk of infection in the school environment.
"For the person with AIDS, the school presents a greater threat to his health than his disease does to the school," said Jessalyn Pittman, AIDS control program coordinator for Utah.