The San Diego school board had the chance earlier this month to show foresight and compassion on the complex problem of AIDS. The board majority chose instead to treat it like a political football.
The plan would have barred from public classrooms preschool children afflicted with AIDS or others whose behavior (biting or incontinence) might pose some risk to others, but otherwise would have allowed the district to consider each case individually. Specialists in AIDS and pediatrics from UC San Diego School of Medicine backed the proposal, which followed guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control.
But three of the five school trustees ignored the weight of medical evidence presented. Board President Larry Lester even came up with his own theory--totally unsubstantiated--that the virus could mutate into a new virus that is transmitted in new ways. Absurd as this seems, even should it occur, or should future research indicate better means of dealing with AIDS victims of school age, the board could certainly revise its policy.
At present, it would seem difficult to come up with any plan as careful and kind as the one just rejected. Most of the informed public seems to share this view, as the lack of adverse testimony during board hearings indicates. Fortunately, the vote was close and can be changed. We hope it will be.
GREGG AND MELINDA