Nicholson’s bill worth hard look
Wednesday, April 09, 2014 12:00 AM
Last year, one of the area’s biggest health scares took place in Ninety Six. What made it even scarier is it involved school children.
Greenwood state Sen. Floyd Nicholson hopes he can allay any fears that such a scare will arise again in any school in the state. Thus, on the heels of the tuberculosis outbreak that struck Ninety Six Primary School, the senator introduced legislation that would strengthen health screenings among current and prospective school employees in the state’s schools, nurseries and child care centers.
Under the bill, school and child care center employees would be required to be TB free. To accomplish this, current, prospective and returning employees would have to be tested. Each year.
The bill is in the early stages at this point and there are some questions associated with it, primarily as they relate to costs. Under current law, only new hires have to be tested for TB. Obviously, testing each employee in every public and private school, nursery and child care center will carry a substantial annual price tag. Where the money will come from to pay for statewide testing is yet unanswered too.
While the costs and sources of revenue have not been determined, Nicholson’s legislation bears serious discussion and consideration. Before it is passed, or course we need to know the costs and how the bill for annual testing will be paid, but those two elements alone should not stop potentially good steps from being taken where our children’s health and well-being are involved.
In this day and time, our children already face far more hazards on school campuses than those of a generation earlier could even fathom. These hazards involve acts of violence, not disease. And while our nation has made great strides in keeping our children healthy through a series of immunizations through the years, and while most of us probably thought tuberculosis was now but an entry in the annals of history, we certainly know that is not the case.
And so the question: Should we explore ways to prevent a TB outbreak such as was witnessed last year in Ninety Six?
Sens. Nicholson and Billy O’Dell think so. As Nicholson said, “We cannot repeat the failures of our past.”
We suspect the 55 students and 18 staff members who were affected at Ninety Six Primary would agree.