TOPSHAM — After a Maine School Administrative District 75 school board member refered to coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus,” the board is weighing a resolution that would call on its members to refer to the virus by its scientific name.

School board member Kathleen Montejo suggested the resolution after the board’s May 28 meeting. At that meeting, Montejo said school board member Eric Lusk referred to the coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus” multiple times, which offended some school board members and members of the public.

Wuhan is the city in China where the coronavirus pandemic outbreak is believed to have originated. The World Health Organization no longer names new diseases after geographical locations, people or cultures in order to prevent discrimination, bias and mistreatment of people that could be encouraged by the name of the disease.

The school board was discussing plans for reopening schools in the fall when Lusk made the comments. In one instance, Lusk said he’d asked Superintendent Shawn Chabot “as to whether or not we have had student hospitalizations from the Wuhan virus. … Why are we shut down? I don’t understand? We have no hospitalizations.”

Board members Frank Wright said he was offended by the Wuhan reference and Sarah Ward said she felt it was insensitive.

“We have in our district children of Chinese descent. To say that this is the disease of the Wuhan virus is a real denigration to those kids, and I take extreme offense to that,” Wright said. “This is the COVID virus, and it has killed 100,000 people in this country alone.”

Wright said the district has a duty to protect its students and staff.

Ward echoed Wright and asked that the virus be referred to by its scientific name.

Cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, are lower in Sagadahoc County in large part because of the restrictions that have been in place to help stop the virus from spreading, she added. There had only been 30 confirmed cases as of Tuesday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Three of the four towns MSAD 75 serves are in Sagadahoc County.

Asked Tuesday of Lusk said felt his use of the term “Wuhan virus” was appropriate, Lusk said “I don’t think it matters. I think people are kind of looking for an issue to get upset about, when the real issue is getting the schools back open.”

He argued that there have been no deaths due to COVID-19 in people under the age of 30 in Maine.

“I could care less about the proper titling of a disease,” Lusk said. “What I care about is are we going to be reopening at the end of August because based on those numbers, the kids are fine.”

Epidemiologists have stressed that the disease is much more dangerous among seniors and people with compromised immune systems. Coronavirus can spread easily among those populations, and an infected person doesn’t have to be showing symptoms to pass it on to others. Schools and other places where large groups gather have remained closed in order to prevent the virus from spreading.

Additionally, Lusk said the tax revenues needed to pay for the MSAD 75 budget “are collapsing and I say, ‘How is using one term or another going to influence any of this?'”

The proposed resolution “starts to look to me as if this is an exercise in controlling freedom of speech and groupthink,” Lusk said.

The school board on Thursday voted to consider a resolution at its next meeting.

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