Tuesday, June 6, 2017


Columbia High School Principal Elizabeth Aaron sent a note to parents today confirming there is a case of Chicken Pox at the high school. (See that note below).

While the South Orange Maplewood School District follows the same immunization policies that the state requires, any child can be exempt for unnamed religious reasons.

We reported in 2015 that 92 district students had been exempt, with 71 claiming religious reasons. It is unknown if today's case involved an exempted student or why.

See Aaron's note today below:

June 6, 2017

Dear Parents/Guardians:

This letter is to notify you that there is a confirmed case of chickenpox (also known as varicella) in a student at Columbia High School and that your child may have been exposed.  If your child has never had chickenpox or been vaccinated for chickenpox before, he/she might become sick with the illness.  Additionally, some persons who have received the varicella vaccine may still get chickenpox. 

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a very contagious infection caused by a virus.  It is spread from person-to-person by direct contact or through the air.  Fever and cold symptoms are often the first signs of illness followed by an itchy, blister-like rash all over the body.  In vaccinated individuals with chickenpox, the rash is usually less severe (sometimes with only a few red bumps that look like insect bites) and there may be no fever.  In healthy children, chickenpox is usually not serious, however occasionally the illness is associated with complications or hospitalization.  Chickenpox can be spread for 1-2 days before the rash starts, until all blisters are crusted are crusted or no new ones appear within a 24 hour period.  Once exposed to chicken pox, it takes 10-21 days for someone to develop symptoms. 

What should you do if exposed to chickenpox?

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) recommends that persons who have never had chickenpox or gotten the varicella vaccine speak to their health care provider about their exposure.  Varicella vaccine given within 3 to 5 days after exposure may help prevent or reduce the severity of illness.  Vaccination greatly reduces both the mild and serious risks of chickenpox and can also stop the spread of illness to others who may be unable to get vaccinated.  Varicella vaccine is recommended for persons 12 months of age or older who have not had chickenpox. 

Please note:  if additional cases of chickenpox occur at Columbia High School, persons who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated may be excluded as part of the NJDOH outbreak control guidelines.  Additionally, if your child develops chickenpox he/she should not attend Columbia High School or other activities until the rash has scabbed over (usually 5-7 days).  This is true even if your child was previously vaccinated.  Additionally, please notify CHS that your child has chickenpox.   

For additional information about chickenpox or the varicella vaccine, please call your health care provider.  Should you have any questions about this situation, please feel free to contact Tracy Crigler at 973-762-5600 x 1059. 

Elizabeth M. Aaron

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