Concerned about Ebola: Parents fearful Ugandan visitors are dangerous

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PEWAUKEE (WITI) -- While world leaders continue the Ebola situation, visitors from Africa to a local school district have some parents concerned.

When you're a kid, having someone from a far away place come visit can be both an exotic and exciting experience.

"Meant to promote cultural awareness and understanding," said JoAnn Sternke, Pewuakee Public Schools Superintendent.

That's why Pewuakee Public schools have had visitors from Uganda several times during the last few years. Two guests from the country are set to be stopping in on both Thursday and Friday this week. But given the constant coverage of the Ebola outbreak on that continent, a trip that might normally be a highlight is instead of sparking fear among some of the school community.

It all started when the district sent out a note to parents on Wednesday, detailing the Ugandans' visit.

"What it would look like a little bit more about the Ebola crisis and really trying to educate parents about why we're moving forward with this event," said Sternke.

A handful of those parents then turned around and contacted FOX6 News, questioning the district's decision to welcome visitors from Africa as fear swirls around the spreading Ebola virus.

Superintendent Doctor JoAnn Sternke says the district covered all its bases before making the decision, and also points out that Uganda is a long way from the countries at the crux of the current outbreak.

"It's 3,000 miles away from areas that are currently under outbreak, and from what our understanding is both from our medical advisor, as well as the World Health Organization and the CDC, we felt that this was an activity that was deemed safe," said Sternke.

Sternke says for parents who still expressed fear, they had the option to keep their child at home and not have the child be penalized.

"In a class of 2,800 students, I believe we've heard from roughly 25-30 parents. Some expressing support about moving forward, and some with questions and concerns," Sternke said.

As Sternke said, Uganda is about 3,000 miles away from Liberia and the heart of the Ebola outbreak. Imagine it as the same distance from San Diego to Boston.

The Superintendent said she didn't know if any parents had chosen to keep their children out of class.

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