EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 6, 2012

EEE forces Danville students inside

DANVILLE — Danville Elementary School students are being kept inside during recess after mosquitoes with Eastern equine encephalitis were trapped on school grounds.

Superintendent Earl Metzler said yesterday the threat is believed to be minimal, but the school district isn’t taking any chances.

“At this point, we are just trying to be as safe as we can possibly be,” he said. “It is just a scary proposition when you find the virus on school grounds.”

Mosquitoes carrying EEE were also found near a home on Highland Avenue, Selectmen’s Chairman Shawn O’Neil said. Mosquitoes are trapped and tested there because it’s a swampy area, he said.

O’Neil said the town received notice from the state Department of Health and Human Services about 4 p.m. Tuesday. The town immediately called the school, but employees had gone home, he said.

The principal’s office was notified Wednesday morning, O’Neil said. A call to principal Nancy Barcelos was referred to Metzler.

Metzler said he didn’t learn of the infected mosquitoes until late Thursday afternoon and immediately notified parents electronically. A notice was also posted on the school’s website.

Students were told they would not be able to play outside until further notice, Metzler said. He said some of the approximately 300 elementary schoolchildren were obviously disappointed, but were warned of the risk.

“Hopefully, the kids understand we are just trying to keep them safe,” he said.

Metzler and O’Neil said the town and school district took a proactive approach to inform the public.

O’Neil said one parent’s claim nothing was done to immediately notify families was false. Metzler said he received calls from parents praising the district for its action. The only concerns expressed were from parents who thought the children should be allowed to play outside, he said.

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