Shared-needle scare grips Massachusetts school
July 11, 2002 Posted: 8:46 PM EDT (0046 GMT)
NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts (Reuters) -- Dozens of students were told to undergo AIDS and hepatitis tests after their teacher had them share a needle to draw blood during science class, a school official said Thursday.
The needle-sharing occurred more than a year ago, when a science teacher at Keith Junior High School in the southern Massachusetts city of New Bedford asked for volunteers from his seventh-grade class to draw blood for a microscope slide.
School officials did not learn about the incident until last month when one of the students spoke up after watching a video about drugs that warned of the risk of sharing needles.
"The student raised his hand and said, 'If that's true, why did our teacher last year use a needle on several of us?"' said Walter Smith, an attorney representing the New Bedford School Department.
School officials contacted the teacher, who had retired in June 2001. The teacher recalled that between 20 and 25 of the 97 seventh-graders he taught that year participated in the experiment.
While the risk of infection from the incident was seen as relatively low, the school department nonetheless sent out 97 letters this week encouraging students to be tested and offering to pay the cost, Smith said.
He said officials were not considering taking disciplinary action against the teacher, and that no criminal activity was involved.