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Health Officials Use Technology To Prevent Disease Outbreak In Schools

A new tracking system is being set up to alert authorities to disease outbreaks at local schools.

Nurses with the Anthony, Fabens and Socorro Independent School Districts were introduced to the Rollcall School Surveillance System.

Officials with the City of El Paso Health Department are behind the efforts to keep schools better informed of any illness or disease affecting communities.

New software will be installed on the computers of school nurses.

When a parent notifies a school that their child will be absent due to an illness, that information will go into a database readily available to health officials.

“It allows the epidemiologists at the Health Department to get real-time information on absences so they can react quickly to those absences and determine if they’re a result of illness or communicable diseases,” said Pat Fowler, a liaison for the the districts and the health department.

In the event of an outbreak, Fowler said health officials will be better prepared to consult with schools, students and parents.

Marlene White is the head nurse at the Anthony Independent School District.

About 800 students attend school in the district.

On a daily basis students from the elementary, middle and high school are sent to her office if they feel ill.

“We know the ones we send home but we don’t always know the ones that are being called-in absent,” said White.

That’s why White is on board with the new program.

White said the system will help her better prepare the 800 students in her district and their parents in the event of an outbreak.

Up until now, White said any information about student illnesses were jotted down on a piece of paper and faxed to health officials every month.

“There’s so much new technology coming out as far as disease management and disease control. This is going to allow the school districts and the health department coordinate to better help the students and the parents,” said Fowler.

The Rollcall System will be on a trial run for one year at the Anthony, Fabens and Socorro Districts.

If it is successful Fowler said health officials hope the bigger school districts in the area will join in.

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