Susan Sherman, a religious education teacher at a Catholic school in Louisville, Kentucky, recently went on a mission trip to Kenya. When she got back, the school where she works was wary of having her head back to class. According to the Archdiocese of Louisville, St. Margaret Mary school asked Sherman to 21-day leave and produce a health note from her doctor.
Instead, Sherman resigned.
At first glance, most people might not think this is a bad idea. Ebola has been ravaging the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Maybe “better safe than sorry” is in order here?
Except for the fact that Kenya is on the east coast of Africa, the opposite of where Ebola is. It is over 3,000 miles from the affected areas. To put that in terms Americans can relate to, it is 2,448 miles from New York to Los Angeles. The minimum distance from Kenya to any of the affected countries on the west coast of Africa is about 3,300 miles.
The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that the school asked that Sherman take the leave and bring the doctor’s not because of “strong parent concerns.” Sherman’s husband told the local parish that “unfounded fears” of some parents and parish staff “are triumphing over truth and reason.”
The founder of the relief organization that handles the Kenya trips said he has only had one other person who has gone on the missions get a negative reaction like the one in Louisville.
“We don’t have Ebola in Kenya,” Steve James said. “It’s unfortunate that someone with such a big heart has to suffer because of [irrational Ebola fears],” he said.