Criticism unfair on school health alertThere is no...


April 25, 1999

Criticism unfair on school health alert

There is no question that meningitis is every parent's worst nightmare. Bacterial meningitis is a disease that seems to strike children randomly with symptoms at first very similar to common colds and flu, but which can rapidly progress to critical illness or even death.

Parents, teachers and students at Annapolis High School are particularly aware of this very grave illness, since we lost a student, Cara Petrini, to bacterial meningitis this month. This was a very tragic event for her family, friends and our school.

However, I believe it was irresponsible for The Sun to suggest that somehow the health officials who had just been notified of the case by the local emergency room were remiss in not issuing an immediate warning notice before school closed on a Friday (editorial, "Earlier alert on meningitis," April 14).

At the time that school closed very little was known about the case. Imagine a parent receiving a letter advising that an unnamed student, who might have attended school sometime during the previous week, was in the local emergency room with symptoms which might be meningitis. Such a letter would have guaranteed a weekend of unproductive panic and rumor in Annapolis.

When school opened the following Monday, accurate information was publicly announced to students and faculty, accomplished by a letter and fact sheet sent home to parents.

I understand that health department staff worked over the weekend to alert possible contacts who needed to obtain preventive treatment.

Our school and health staff, along with parents, worked together to get out the most accurate information as quickly as possible.

I don't believe we could have done anything more under the circumstances.

Mary Stroop, Annapolis

The writer is president of the Annapolis High School Parent-Teacher-Student Organization.

Builders rule, planners kowtow

The article in The Sun ("Homes won't get sound barriers," April 18) clearly illustrates why urban sprawl will not be contained until more citizen control is exercised over building decisions in the counties.

Although this article discussed a new community in Howard County being built so close to Route 100 that hearing could be damaged, this could represent any county in Maryland.

The so-called planning departments are, in fact, building facilitators.

Their ties to the building community are too close and deep. That the politicos don't step in is also not surprising as they are deeply indebted to the developers for campaign cash.

Why the planning department decided they needed to grant waivers so the development would be economically feasible is beyond me.

Why should a government agency bend, break and mutilate building rules, grant innumerable waivers and put people's health at risk to save the builder from a poor purchase and guarantee them a profit?

The builder should have been forced to build a noise abatement earthen berm. If it was too expensive -- tough -- then don't build.

Granting building waivers is too important a task to be left to a nameless, faceless planning department whose credibility is questionable at best. To control sprawl and stop this idiotic development, citizen control committees must be formed in every county to review and grant waivers.

Builders, planners and zoning experts are invited not to apply. We need to bring honesty, integrity and common sense back into the process.

Alan McAllister, Severna Park

Pub Date: 4/25/99

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