Thursday, August 13, 2009

Early 1990's Memories & Photos, AIDS Crises

Nancy Bordenave a kindergarten teacher:
We usually had 32-33 students in our class, but we had each other ( our partner teacher in the morning or afternoon) and a daily teacher aide and parent volunteers several days a week. Our students all spoke English, and we weren't teaching reading--just reading readiness. But we did have a sea of little faces to nurture and teach.

We had a terrible year during the construction of our new classrooms: dust, jackhammers, heavy equipment all day long, and half our playground fenced off. And no bathrooms,which meant we needed to walk the class to the "big kids' bathroom" and stand in line and try not to disturb the second grade classes near the bathrooms.

But the new classrooms are absolutely worth it! They're huge and cozy at the same time. We felt like the luckiest teachers to be at Alvarado Kdg.
I always felt the "Alvarado spirit" of pride and support for each other and inspiration from the ideas and hard work of all the faculty and staff. I loved being a part of our school.

Alvarado Staff 1992-1993
Julia Strong-Yoho Principal
Click on the images to enlarge

The AIDS Crises

From about 1985 to the 1990's the world was turned upside down from the AIDS crises and even schools were affected. Various famous individuals such as the movie star, Rock Hudson and nationally known tennis player, Arthur Ashe,  were infected with this disease and died. In the late 1980's a young student, not at AE, Ryan White, gained national attention from being infected with AIDS. He passed away in 1990. It was everywhere in newspapers, on TV and the radio. There was general panic thoughout the population of the United States. Young Ryan's house was almost burned down because people were so fearful of their own children contacting this disease. Teachers were not supposed to discuss AIDS with students. If a student asked about AIDS, we were supposed to tell them to go home and ask their parents. This was probably based on the initial idea that AIDS was only a sexually transmitted disease, a school hot potato.

We were told that we may have students who were HIV positive.  We were not told who the students were as this was confidential information. But we knew it was possible because we knew we had students who had been identified as crack babies and children of IV drug users, another source for the HIV virus. The administrators, school psychologist, resource teacher, and probably the child's classroom teacher knew the identity of those students, but others, such as prep teachers, aides, and certainly other parents or volunteers had no idea who had it and who did not. We were not allowed to discuss this issue with other teachers. We were also told that some students just entering the US through a third world country may carry a particularly dangerous version of Hepatitis B. Every school in New Haven School District had a workshop on the disposal of contaminated blood. Students frequently get bloody noses or are injured in some small way. This is quite common. All teachers were issued a fanny pack containing a plastic blood bag and rubber gloves for the disposal of band-aids and blood containing material. The fanny packs were to be worn when we were on a bus or yard duty. We had a blood bucket in the office to put any contaminated materials. We were told the Hepatitis virus could be activitated from dried blood as old as six months. If the blood becomes wet the virus would come alive. We were told to assume that all blood was contaminated. As teachers many were not sure we really believed the Hepatitis B story. I think most of us thought it really was because of AIDs as they later found out that people could get AIDS from blood transfusions. 

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