Bill would require more health tests for school employees - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Bill would require more health tests for school employees

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

It was one of the largest tuberculosis outbreaks in recent state history and it struck at an Upstate elementary school just last summer.

On Monday, lawmakers moved a bill forward that would require all public school employees to have a clean bill of health.

Last summer, residents of Ninety-Six, the site of the outbreak, say paranoia and fear ran rampant.

"You'd go into a store and you'd see people putting their hands like this," said Kathy Crawford. "And I said, 'What are they doing?' and I got to thinking, it's probably because of that school."

"People wouldn't come into Ninety-Six because of it," said Stephanie Kiss.

In a small community, many say it's common to know someone with ties to the school. Many workers are just now completing treatment, a small relief for what could've been a much larger problem.

"It made me wanna cry," said Crawford. "You see all these kids getting sick and stuff."

"The thing we want to do is make sure it never happens again, not just in Greenwood or Ninety-Six, but anywhere in the entire state," said state Sen. Floyd Nicholson (D-Greenwood).

To do that, Nicholson says the rules for school employees must change.

"When you're hired at the school you have to have a TB test, but there's no plan in there for after you're hired. You might work 15 or 20 years and not be retested again," said Nicholson.

Nicholson's proposal would require all school employees to be tested upon hiring and again every five years. Families exposed to the outbreak say it's about time.

"I think that's a good idea," said Kiss. "Just to be sure that it's not in them and wouldn't be passed onto everyone else."

Some parents in the community say they are still on guard.

"Just be careful," said Crawford. "Ask questions about whoever works in that school."

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