Weeks after homecoming — a staple fall event for high school kids — one parent claims that several students who attended the dance at Brophy College Preparatory have become sick, including her child.
The parent said she has tried to ask the school questions, curious what investigations they've done if any, but instead of answers, she claims her calls have gone unanswered. So, she reached out to ABC15.
The parent agreed to an on-camera interview with us, but did not want to be identified in order to also protect her child's identity. She also shared a number of photos and videos with us.
Brophy's homecoming was held on Oct. 16, 2021. Due to COVID concerns, it was held outside at one of the school's fields, the school told ABC15 in a statement.
“It was essentially one big dust cloud that they were socializing in,” the mom said.
Nearly a month since, the mom told ABC15 that her daughter remains sick, and is now bedridden.
“I’ve heard from parents who said that they saw their children came home with dust coming out of their nostrils,” she said.
The mom said her daughter had a cough, then what seemed to be a cold, and then bronchitis. Eventually, her daughter was diagnosed with Valley Fever.
Valley Fever is an infection caused by fungus spores that are found in the soil in the southwestern United States, as well as Mexico, Central America, and South America, according to the CDC.
Common symptoms include fatigue, fever, shortness of breath, headache, night sweats, muscle aches, and a rash on the upper body or legs, the CDC said on its website. Symptoms usually last a few weeks to a few months, however, some may experience than longer.
“My child has not been able to walk for several days, so that’s been pretty scary,” the parent said.
So, she took her to Urgent Care and said she was told by the doctor that they've seen other children who reportedly went to the same homecoming event.
“They immediately said, 'we’ve seen many children who have experienced ailments immediately after that event, and some who were even hospitalized,'” she said.
She reached out to the school, but did not hear back. “Nothing from Brophy, which is very surprising,” she said.
"According to the four physicians we’ve consulted with over the last week, Valley Fever is a very serious illness and it's something that’s not temporary," the parent said.
“As a respectable institution, my thoughts are...saying nothing is unacceptable."
When reached by ABC15, the Maricopa County Department of Public Health said if reports of infectious disease come in, they will investigate them. It was unclear Thursday how many reports, if any, the Department of Public had received.
Minutes before this story aired Thursday, Brophy's principal Bob Ryan forwarded a copy of a letter that was sent to parents from the school addressing these concerns:
"Dear Brophy Community:
I wanted to take a moment to make you aware of information that is circulating about the homecoming student event on October 16, and to provide you with the facts we have at this time.
Due to our COVID protocols, homecoming was held outdoors this year. As you may have noticed when your student returned home, a considerable amount of dirt and dust was kicked up in the dance area. We are aware that some students suffered brief and minor respiratory irritation, from which they fully recovered.
We did not receive an unusual number of calls about this issue following the event, nor an unusual number of absences in the period following homecoming. We are aware of one student who has recently contracted Valley Fever; however, given the prevalence of this illness in the Southwest, we can’t confirm this is related to homecoming. We know of no other such illnesses at this time. So, while we do not believe there is a larger issue, we do want to continue to encourage parents who may be concerned about their student’s health to seek a doctor’s advice, especially during flu season and the COVID pandemic.
Since last summer, it has been our plan to install artificial turf underneath the Pavilion as soon as the City approves our permit. This will minimize dust and dirt at outdoor activities like homecoming and no upcoming events are planned for that area until the project is complete.
Please reach out if you have any questions."