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Communicable Diseases: Education of Students Who Are Infected or Are Carriers

General Guidelines

The purpose of this procedural directive is to protect the legitimate interests and rights of students with communicable diseases or who are carriers of communicable diseases, while also protecting the health and safety of the remaining students in Albuquerque Public Schools.  The Public Health Division of the New Mexico Department of Health has statutory authority over school districts on such matters and Albuquerque Public Schools shall comply with the guidance of that department.

For the purposes of this procedural directive, "communicable diseases" are defined as diseases which can be transmitted from person to person and include, but are not limited to, vaccine-preventable diseases and other communicable and chronic communicable diseases as defined in the New Mexico School Health Manual. 

No student, otherwise qualified to attend Albuquerque Public Schools, shall be denied admission, suspended, expelled, segregated, or restricted from curricular or extra-curricular activities, have his/her educational program changed nor otherwise be denied the benefits of the educational program as a result of the student being a carrier of or having any communicable disease, unless the procedures specified herein have been followed.

The district shall not require mandatory testing or screening of students for communicable disease as a condition precedent to registration or admission to school, either initially or annually. However, if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student has, or is a carrier of, a communicable disease such student may be required to submit to appropriate medical examination.  

Albuquerque Public Schools shall comply with the Department of Health Pandemic Action Plan in the event a communicable disease is diagnosed at a school and the nature of the disease meets the indicators necessary to implement such an Action Plan.

Students with Acute Communicable Diseases

For acute communicable diseases, parents/legal guardians ought to absent their children from school during the contagious period. Parents/legal guardians may voluntarily choose to absent their children from school, without compliance with the process in this section, for any period during which the student’s condition is infectious, provided that such absence is supported by a statement to that effect prepared by a physician or other state recognized medical professional. In the event the parents or guardians refuse to voluntarily absent the infectious student from school, the principal shall suspend the student for up to ten (10) school days, following the procedural directive governing short-term suspensions of students. A determination as to whether alternative instruction may be provided during such absences shall be made on a case-by-case basis, the length of the absence, the severity of the condition and other factors considered relevant by appropriate school personnel.

Any decision affecting the educational program or attendance of a student who is a carrier of or who has a chronic communicable disease shall be based upon competent medical advice and shall balance the rights of the infected student against the legitimate interest of the district in protecting the health and safety of the remaining students. Decisions concerning the educational program and placement setting for those students who have, or are carriers of, chronic communicable disease shall be made by a committee (hereinafter "the Committee") composed of the following:

  • the child’s health care provider (physician, nurse practitioner, physician’s assistant);
  • the child’s parents/legal guardians;
  • the superintendent or his/her designee;
  • the Department of Health  Regional Health Officer as defined in §24-1-4 NMSA 1978; and
  • any other appropriate person, to be appointed by the Committee.

Evaluative Factors

In determining the educational program and placement setting for any student who has or is a carrier of a chronic communicable disease, the following factors may be evaluated

  • The nature of the disease;
  • The age of the student;
  • The behavior of the student;
  • The neurological development of the student;
  • The physical condition of the student;
  • The expected type of interaction which the student will have with other individuals in the proposed placement setting;
  • The degree to which other individuals may be exposed to infectious organisms;
  • The hygienic practices of the student;
  • The risk of transmission of the disease from the student to those individuals with whom he or she will interact’; and
  • Any other pertinent factor reasonably related to the decision.

An unrestricted educational program and placement setting shall be the primary goal for any student who has or is a carrier of a chronic communicable disease. Restrictions upon a student's educational program and/or placement may be imposed only when the Committee determines that the risk of an unrestricted program and placement outweigh the benefits which the student may receive from an unrestricted program.

The educational program and/or placement setting established by the Committee for any student who has, or is a carrier of, a chronic communicable disease shall be reevaluated, and modified if necessary, as often as the circumstances require, but in no event shall the educational program and/or the placement setting continue without reevaluation at least once per school year. Any reevaluation shall be done by the Committee taking into account those factors listed in "Evaluative Factors."

School personnel shall be notified of a student’s health condition based on the FERPA and HIPPA guidelines of need to know.  All body fluids will be handled using Universal Precaution guidelines.  All school personnel and all members of the Committee appointed according to the provisions of this procedural directive shall maintain the student’s right of confidentiality with respect to the fact that the student has or is a carrier of a chronic communicable disease, and with respect to any records, documents, statements, letters or memoranda developed or prepared by the Committee, provided, however, that nothing herein shall prohibit or prevent the disclosure of information that may be permitted or required by state or federal law or regulations promulgated there under.

Appeals

The parents/legal guardians of a student who has or is a carrier of a chronic communicable disease aggrieved by a program or placement decision made pursuant to this directive may appeal that decision to the superintendent, by requesting a hearing, in writing, within ten (10) calendar days of the program or placement decision. Such hearing shall be held at a time convenient to the parties and shall be held in executive or closed session. The decision of the superintendent shall be final. Nothing herein shall be construed as limiting the rights of parents of special education students under federal or state statutes and regulations and to the extent that such regulations are inconsistent with this procedural directive, the federal or state regulation will prevail.

Administrative Position:            Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Support

Department Director:                Director of Health and Wellness

References:

Legal Cross Reference:                    §24-1-4 NMSA 1978
Board Policy Cross Ref.:                   JL – Student and Staff Wellness
Procedural Directive Cross Ref.:      Albuquerque Public Schools Nursing Manual

NSBA/NEPN Classification:      JLCC

Revised: May 1995
Revised: April 1996
Revised: May 1997
Revised: October 2009

Reviewed: September 24, 2010
Reviewed: October 11, 2010
Revised: October 15, 2010

Reviewed: November 11, 2014
Revised: November 12, 2014

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