ENNIS Skin tests were administered last week by the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) to a group of students, faculty and staff at Ennis High School who were identified as close contacts to an EHS teacher diagnosed with an active case of Tuberculosis (TB).

It is important to note that the decision on which student populations to test rests solely with TDSHS, not with Ennis ISD.

EISD is working with TDSHS on logistical and planning issues regarding the testing and notifications, but TDSHS is responsible for all aspects of diagnosis, treatment options (including free services), testing protocol, designation of service providers, and information release protocol.

Signed parental permission forms were required for students to take the skin test. About half of the identified students returned those signed forms. A concerted effort is being made to obtain signed parental forms for those identified students who were not tested last week.

TDSHS health officials will be back on the EHS campus starting on Wednesday, Sept. 21 to conduct skin tests for identified students who were not tested last week. Results for the skin test must be read within 48 hours, so the state health officials will also be on campus Friday, Sept. 23.

Those with positive readings from the skin test are instructed by TDSHS to receive chest x-rays, which will help identify whether they have an active case of TB. They are given referral letters and are instructed to obtain their chest x-rays at either Ennis Regional Medical Center or Baylor Medical Center in Waxahachie.

Please note that a positive reading from the skin test does not mean that a person has TB. It could be a false positive due to an allergy or another reason.

Also note that there are two types of TB: latent (or non-active) and active. A person with latent TB shows no symptoms and is not contagious. A person with active TB has symptoms and is contagious.

EISD is continuing to coordinate the situation closely with TDSHS, which is the agency responsible for all aspects of diagnosis, treatment options (including free services), testing protocol, designation of service providers, and information release protocol.

TDSHS has assured the district that persons with a positive reading on the skin test posed no health risk as long as they did not show symptoms of active TB.

EISD will continue to adhere to the recommendations of TDSHS. The health and safety of students, faculty and staff remains a top priority for the district.

If treatment is required, the State of Texas, through TDSHS, will cover the costs for those who require treatment as long as the treatments are through the state. Those with private physicians have the option of switching over to treatment through the state. However, please note that the state cannot reimburse costs already incurred with private physicians.

Henry Martinez serves as the director of communication for the Ennis Independent School District.