County to test 150 students, 16 staff members for tuberculosis

Individuals with close contact to contagious individual to be tested Jan. 30 and 31

Update Feb. 6: In a statement today, Superintendent Rob Metz announced testing was successful and “no new or suspected cases of active or infectious TB were found at the school.” Metz also said the Hennepin County health department will use its follow-up protocols as a precaution. 

Individuals who had close contact with the individual at Park with tuberculosis will be tested for the disease during the school day Jan. 30 and 31, according to district communications director Sara Thompson.

Thompson said the district has been in communication with Hennepin County.

“We’re in contact with the County Health Department throughout the investigation and scheduling the testing for Jan. 30 and 31,” Thompson said.

Sophomore Morganna Oberdorfer said she received a letter in the mail saying she will be tested for tuberculosis.

“(The letter) said that I might have tuberculosis and with it came a permission slip that we had to fill out and also an information sheet on tuberculosis,” Oberdorfer said.

Hennepin County Health Department program manager David Johnson said test results will determine next steps.

“By focusing our resources by doing a very good job testing the people who had the most exposure we are able to say whether or not the disease has spread and then make decisions on that,” Johnson said.

All families received letters in the mail recently indicating whether or not their student needed to be tested.

The letters to parents of students who will be tested said the test has two parts.

“This screening consists of a symptom review and the administration and reading of a tuberculin skin test,” the letter stated.

According to the letter, interviews and testing will take place Jan. 30 and 31. Readings of the skin test will occur Feb. 2 and 3.

Johnson said 166 people will be tested.

“There will be 150 students who are going to be tested and 16 staff,” Johnson said.

Oberdorfer said she does not think her test will come back positive for tuberculosis.

“I’m kind of nervous for the test because I don’t really like shots, but I’m not really scared,” Oberdorfer said. “I don’t think I have tuberculosis, so I think it’s fine.”

Johnson said students who weren’t exposed don’t need precautionary testing.

“Because of the contact investigation with the procedures that we are following we don’t recommend anyone other than the people we have identified as being exposed be tested,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the Health Department looked into details of the situation to determine who needed testing.

“(We worked) with the school administration to figure out which parts of the school this individual was in and looked at class rosters we did a thorough site visit where we examined all the rooms and looked at risk characteristics that have to do with air flow, room size (and) other things to determine who would need follow-up testing,” Johnson said. “(We came) up with a list of people who had had the most exposure and so we’re confident we were able to come up with the group that had the highest level of exposure to get testing.”

Thompson said the County notified the district of the tuberculosis case in November. She echoed the district’s initial message to parents, which said the district waited to inform families under direction from the County.