Oologah Cancels School After Conflicting Health Department Statements

Wednesday, January 7th 2015, 1:57 pm
By: Richard Clark

The Superintendent of Oologah Public Schools has canceled classes for Thursday after health department officials "contradicted" information about the investigation into a young student's death.

Jenny Yang, 6, died on the evening of Monday, January 5, 2015 after being sent home from school with a fever.

1/6/2015: Related Story: Six-Year-Old Oologah Girl Dies Following Illness

On Tuesday, the Rogers County Health Department said the hospital where the child died reports there was no evidence to support any diagnosis of a communicable disease. The department also said there is no risk or danger to other students or staff at the school where the child was enrolled.

However, on Wednesday, the Oklahoma state health department said it has not ruled out meningitis as a possible cause and, in fact, nothing has been ruled out.

Rogers County Health Department Administrator Maria Alexander said Tuesday there was no evidence of any risk or danger to anyone; that they could say definitively it was not a case of bacterial meningitis.

Then Alexander told News On 6 this on Wednesday afternoon: "We don't want to rule anything out until we get the absolute pathology results back."

At 10 p.m., superintendent Max Tanner, after learning of the updated health department stance through our story, released this statement on the campus closing saying he wasn't willing to risk the health of other students in the meantime:

"I would like to start by saying that I have tried to provide up to date information to our Parents and Community regarding the recent death of an Oologah Student. I have quoted only information that was given to me by the Rogers County and Oklahoma State Health Department.

This afternoon, the Oklahoma State Health Department completely reversed their previous statements. They contradicted the information that was sent to me in an interview with the media.

Therefore, I feel it is in the best interest of our students and parents that we cancel school tomorrow, Thursday, Jan. 8. Again school will be canceled tomorrow.

I apologize for this late phone call, but right now, the health and safety of our student's is my number one concern. When I receive any further information, I will release it immediately."

The investigation into Yang's death continues. Jenny's brother, Aaron, set up a gofundme page, on which he describes the family's history and asks for help in dealing with her loss.

As of Thursday morning, the family says the gofundme page had topped its goal.

"At the moment no one can te[ll] what happen to her, according to health department, her death is unknown, we got a call from school saying she have a high fever, then when she came home and slept on the couch, we try to wake her up, to ask what was wrong, she was not breathing, then we called ems and they took her to the hospital where she was pronounce dead," he wrote.

Aaron Yang wrote that Jenny was the youngest of seven children and was very outgoing and talkative. He said his family came to the United States in 2005 and knows very little about the American way of life. The page is listed under the name nkauj ntshiab, the girl's name in her parents' first language.

"With uneducated parents, we were unprepared for this tragedy. Who knew it would be our precious angel," he wrote.

News of Jenny Yang's death caused great concern in Oologah, beyond the shock of losing a small child. The concern was because of a bacterial meningitis outbreak in March of 2010 that killed two students and left a third with debilitating wounds.

The 2010 meningitis outbreak in Oologah killed 8-year-old Shuache Moua and her classmate Andrew Thomas, also 8. Jeremiah Mitchell survived, but had multiple surgeries over the years and lost his arms and legs.

4/2/2010: Oklahoma State Department Of Health Releases Oologah Meningitis Timeline