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Swine Flu in a Classroom Near You August 9, 2009

Posted by alwaysjan in Health, Teaching.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,


I’ve read three articles in as many days advising schools how to handle an outbreak of the swine flu.  I had my pig Maisie do some research, and she’s reported back with her findings:  Although it might not be on your initial class roster, it seems the swine flu is set to enter your classroom this fall.

Federal officials at the Center for Disease Control (CDC) are recommending that schools be closed as a last resort.  The New York Times has all the news that’s fit to print, so if you want to check out more stats, acronyms, and some recommendations, click on that link.  You can also check out flu.gov.

Fortunately, the initial panic about the swine flue as a pandemic that could potentially kill millions has subsided.  But the swine flu is still no laughing matter. Over one million Americans have been infected so far.  If you’re a teacher, you’re already accustomed to being on the front lines.  Or should I say the first in line to get “what’s going round.”  Children have an uncanny ability to sneeze, cough, hack, spew, vomit…  Okay, I could go on, but you get the picture.  To date, the flu aka H1N1 has been mild and has not mutated – yet.  (Cue scary music.)

I, for one, am marshaling all my resources.  All teachers are issued a first-aid kit at the start of the year.  The first year I kept looking for this “kit.”  I finally realized it’s a Ziploc bag containing a pair of latex gloves, some band-aids, and a few cotton balls thrown in for good measure.

The CDC suggested that schools might want to issue masks to personnel. Sounds good, but I’d settle for kleenex.  Last year, my students were reduced to blowing their noses on art tissue paper.  Hey, it works.  But when I tore off a piece of bright green tissue paper and handed it to my new student from Korea, I was shocked when I saw the dye had rubbed off on his upper lip.  He had a bright green Charlie Chaplin mustache that wouldn’t wash off. So, kleenex would be good.

It was also suggested that teachers could move students’ desks father apart. Now, my students don’t have individual desks.  They sit at tables for two, and now that my class size has been upped from 20 to 24, I’m still trying to figure out where to put THOSE kids.  My cup may runneth over, but the space in my classroom does not.  The CDC recommends that schools might want to offer web-based instruction for students out sick.  Can you hear me laughing hysterically?

One final note.  My pig Maisie wanted to make sure I mentioned the CDC said “People cannot become infected by eating pork or pork products. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Farenheit kills the virus as well as other bacteria.”  Maisie doesn’t actually recommend EVER cooking pork.

She also wants you to know she’s never been sick a day in her life.  Okay, there was that time she ate five pounds of butter set aside for Christmas baking.  But that would upset your tummy too.  On a more positive note, Maisie smelled like a butter cookie for a week.


1. Lisa - August 10, 2009

I think I’ll load up on hand sanitizer along with those boxes of kleenex. What are the chances we’ll get hot water in the bathroom sinks…?! Can’t wait.

Lisa – My pig weighed in on those options. Kleenex yes, but hot water? She said something about flying. Jan


2. misscheese - August 10, 2009

Oh, swine flu…just another illness to add to the list of ones teachers and kids are susceptible to every year…

hand sanitizer, you rock my world.

p.s. does the CDC realize that classroom sizes are generally not large enough to keep students away from each other? what about their awesomely clean lockers? or…the cafeteria?

The cafeteria – Yikes! I won’t go there (mentally or physically). And kindergarten is basically one big biohazard. I joked about getting some Luminol like they use on CSI, but I’m afraid my classroom would light up like a radioactive isotope. Jan


3. Catherine Sherman - August 10, 2009

Didn’t Maisie also break into your freezer and grab a box of frozen bacon and eat that, too!

Another great post. You truly are in the trenches doing front line work.

Off topic, Laura and Ryan began their journey today to their new home in SoCal. I’ve already cried a couple of times. Where’s the green tissue paper?

Cathy – Actually it wasn’t even frozen. I don’t know what’s more obscene – that she ate it, or that we had 5 lbs. of bacon in the fridge. (I blame that on Costco.) I swear that pig would eat off her own leg – if only she could reach it! It’s always hard sending our children off into the world. If you didn’t shed a few tears, you wouldn’t be a mother. 🙂 Jan


4. elissestuart - August 11, 2009

Give Maisie a hug for me.
I still fondly remember our first meeting.
I have read a warning on hand sanitizer I thought I would share.
Make sure that children do not lick or put their hands in their mouths…yeah right I’m asking for a miracle. Apparently a child got alcohol poisoning from the hand sanitzer.
I swear I didn’t read it in a tabloid!

Elisse – Oh dear, I better check the ingredients first. One teacher squirts out a dollop onto each student’s hand before lunch. Maybe they’re licking the sanitizer, and that’s why that can’t walk in a straight line. Jan


elissestuart - August 13, 2009

Could be.


5. Michelle - August 13, 2009

Please excuse my ignorance on the subject matter — but why can’t you ask each student to bring in a box of kleenex and a box of anitbacterial wipes? As a parent, I am asked for these items all the time. Just a thought…

I love piggies, and I can’t wait to meet yours. I am sure my daughter will get a kick out of her!!!

Michelle – I do ask that students bring in a box of kleenex at the start of each school year. But I have to ration kleenex or the class would go through an entire box in a day (I had to learn that the hard way). There are always parents who will send them in, but sometimes, the well runs dry and we just have to make do. Most of my students are on free lunch and their families give as much as they can. Jan


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