Parents seek answers after recent Tuberculosis case at Sullivan Central


BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. - More than a dozen parents expressed their concerns to Sullivan County leaders at an information session Monday night following a Sullivan Central High School student's diagnosis with tuberculosis.

Their main concern was whether or not it is safe to send their children to school.

Anthony Poland has two children who attend Sullivan Central. He wants answers before sending his kids back to school.

"My kids know about it a few weeks ago so why did it take so long for us to hear about it?", Poland asks. "I could've had our kids tested."

Poland says his kids learned about it from Facebook. Several parents raised questions about why they were not notified about the issue more quickly.

Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski says a notice was sent home to parents less than 48 hours after the tuberculosis case was confirmed.

"I want them to feel comfortable and I wanted to feel confident about sending a child to school," Rafalowski says.

Tuberculosis can be a deadly disease, but doctors say it is easily treated with modern-day medicine. It spreads through the air from one person to another, but an expert in tuberculosis who was at the meeting says there is an extremely minimal risk of it still being in the school. Dr. Stephen May is the Director of the Sullivan County Health Department. His job at the meeting was to put parents' minds at ease.

"There is not any extra precautions at this time," Dr. May says. "There is no further risk of exposure."

Even so, Poland and other parents are still not convinced.

"What's the school doing to clean the school and make sure it's not still in the school?" Poland asks.

But Rafalowski wants parents to know she is there to answer any questions.

"I encourage parents that if they have a question or concern, that they come to us rather than voicing that on social media and looking for an answer there," she says.

Dr. May says the student who was diagnosed is already getting treatment and any high-risk contacts have been notified for further contact.

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