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TMCNet:  A third Grand Forks student diagnosed with TB

[November 21, 2012]

A third Grand Forks student diagnosed with TB

Nov 21, 2012 (Grand Forks Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- A student at Valley Middle School and two other Grand Forks residents have been found to be infected with tuberculosis, bringing the total number of active cases in Grand Forks County to 13, the state Department of Health said Tuesday.

The department did not clarify in the news release if the latter two cases are children.

There are now 21 active TB cases statewide.

Meanwhile, two students from Phoenix Elementary School recently diagnosed with the disease will rely on technology for their education until they return to school in mid-December, Principal Kevin Ohnstad said on Tuesday.

Similar to distance education offered by a college, the students will use a laptop connected to the Internet for their assignments, curriculum and communication with a teacher. Further details, such as how long the teacher will instruct, have not yet been determined, he said.

"The teachers are providing curriculum materials and are communicating that back and forth with the family, so (the students) don't get too far behind," he said.

The school district has managed similar long absences before, usually hiring a tutor to teach at the student's home for a few hours. However, with students who have tuberculosis, a disease spread through prolonged exposure, a teacher to provide instruction through a voice-over-Internet application, such as Skype, he said.

The extra teaching time won't affect classroom teachers, as those hired to tutor students outside of school are usually para-educators trained as teachers.

The two Phoenix students were diagnosed last week with the potentially fatal disease, while three additional cases were diagnosed Tuesday, including one student at Valley Mid-dle School.

In the years Ohnstad was a principal at Valley Middle School, he managed the educational plans of several children who were absent, sometimes for months due to hospitalization.

"You can't replace all of the time in front of a teacher, so sometimes you have to provide as much curriculum and materials as you can, and then the parents sometimes have to become the teacher," he said.

Assignments sent by email have replaced faxes that used to be exchanged between the hospital and school. Document-sharing applications, such as Google Docs -- where several people can view and change a document simultaneously -- have been a "breakthrough" for this kind of education, said Ohnstad.

After a child's illness or hospitalization, they're cognitively fine but sometimes require a slight adjustment returning to the school environment, he said.

------ Call Johnson at (701) 787-6736; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1736; or send e-mail to jjohnson@gfherald.com.

More from around the web ___ (c)2012 the Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, N.D.) Visit the Grand Forks Herald (Grand Forks, N.D.) at www.grandforksherald.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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