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How has the current wave of seasonal flu plus H1N1 affected educational instutions where you live?  

I teach at a public middle school in Virginia-- in very rural Virginia, actually.  I wasn't assuming that we would get hit very hard with swine flu cases.  I knew that we were not immune, and I figured that we would have a few cases.

I definitely underestimated the impact-- one-third of my students have been out sick for the past week and a half.

So much for pacing guides and benchmarks and...

Well-- you get the idea-- we are basically doing a lot of make-up work and re-teaching in my class and in classes all over the bulding.  

Most of the students out sick have been diagnosed with H1N1, and of course we now have teachers out with the same.  Add in the usual strep and stomach bug, and our attendance is way down.  It's not been end-of-the-world terrible, but the systems we have in place to deal with absences and make-up work sure are strained.  We also have parents calling for the schools to close to "let the germs die out," while others are sending their obviously VERY sick children to school.

So, I am curious-- how is this impacting education where you are?

What systems do you have in place in your schools and colleges to deal with this sort of thing?  

Are you currently dealing with large numbers of H1N1 cases in students and faculty?

Has your institution participated in seasonal flu and H1N1 vaccine programs? How has that been?

Originally posted to mommyof3 on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:27 AM PDT.

Poll

H1H1 (Swine flu) has caused attendance/teaching issues in local schools.

20%9 votes
17%8 votes
37%17 votes
11%5 votes
13%6 votes

| 45 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

    by mommyof3 on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:27:57 AM PDT

    •  Wash your hands! :-) (7+ / 0-)

      and remind your students of the proper way to cover when coughing and sneezing... this really helps!

      Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

      by mommyof3 on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:35:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been using Facebook to remind people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mommyof3

        about the need to practice good respiratory etiquette and handwashing.  I'm sure plenty of my FB friends are sick of it by now, but I'll stop when I stop seeing status updates from people who are trying to keep going to work or school with a fever.

        •  I say-- good for you! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mamamedusa

          Fever = stay home and rest!  That's what your body is telling you... wish more people would heed that.

          Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

          by mommyof3 on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:17:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yup! Here's the thing though: (4+ / 0-)

            A friend of mine who lives here in town posted about her illness, and I was able to give her information about how long to stay home, etc.  I asked via FB chat what she needed and was able to drop off a shopping bag of Gatorade, hand sanitizer, etc., on her doorstep so she could stay home.  She was able to make arrangements for her kids to stay with her ex's household for an extra day.  She missed a week of work, but it didn't threaten her employment status or income.

            My young-adult niece is a non-custodial single mom who supports herself by waiting tables while putting herself through a community college program.  She's distressed about being quarantined from visitation with her infant son; she's going to classes feverish because of attendance policies; her boss insisted she had to come in to work yesterday with a fever (then sent her home because she "looked like shit").

            My younger sister is a custodial single mom with a shaky social support system living in the opposite end of the state from me.  Her three-year-old developed flu symptoms this week, and she had no one who could stay with the kids while she went out to get Pedialyte, Tylenol, etc; so the sick baby went out to the grocery store with her.

        •  I've been doing that, too (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mommyof3, mamamedusa

          I posted a link to the appropriate web page of our state health dept.

          It was helpful when one of my nieces posted the exact same link, since she has a lots of friends who are young parents like herself.

          I also sent a couple emails with information to my family members.

          I don't know if they are sick of me yet.

      •  Hand washing is good, but.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mommyof3

        Maybe not much help against flu

        it has become conventional wisdom that hand-washing is the best way to protect yourself from the H1N1 strain of influenza. But while hand-washing has been shown to be a great defense against the common cold and other respiratory diseases, it might not actually be that helpful against the influenza virus, including the H1N1 strain.

        http://www.newsweek.com/...

        "The required presence of health professionals did not make interrogation methods safer, but sanitized their use" Physicians for Human Rights

        by Catte Nappe on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:25:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  H1N1 has been reported at (8+ / 0-)

    all four elementary schools and the middle school in our district. the only school were there are no reported cases is the high school. Our schools require anyone with the flu to stay out of school for a week.

    •  Student (10+ / 0-)

      in my multple disabled classroom with H1N1. I called a mom this week to pick-up another child with fever who then gave her Tylenol and sent her back the next day. Schools can require a week, but parents who use schools as babysitters will ignore. Just biding my time til I am down.

      "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

      by lilypew on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:38:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There should be some kind of repercussion (5+ / 0-)

        for parents who send their kids to school sick.  Even if it's just a call from the health dept.

        It's so irresponsible.

        At the same time, I was thinking about how difficult it must be in a household where both parents are working.

        I'm going on three weeks at home with one sick kid or another.  Luckily, I can do that easily.  What do you do if you work???

        I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

        by coquiero on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:53:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's the rub-- how to balance... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Orinoco, mamamedusa, coquiero

          kids that need to be home with parent needing to be at work.  Hard to always do easily...

          Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

          by mommyof3 on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:57:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  When people have asked about whether I'd immunize (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco, mommyof3

            I've pointed out that I don't have time to spend weeks at home with sick kids.  Of course, I also don't want my kids to suffer from influenza; but I honestly don't know how we'd manage if one or both of our kids came down with this.

            •  It's not been fun... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Orinoco, mamamedusa

              my husband and my youngest daughter both are recovering from H1N1... I had to use a couple of sick days this week to stay home.  My husband just doesn't get paid for days he doesn't work-- so the next couple of weeks will be tight.

              Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

              by mommyof3 on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:15:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  This is where (5+ / 0-)

                the government should step in. If a person doesn't have paid days or a job would be a risk for missing work, in a declared national emergency, people ought not receive negative consequences from missing work. If wages are lost, then some sort of compensation should be available and no one should be fired.

                "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

                by lilypew on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:23:19 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Not a repercussion (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming, Catte Nappe, mommyof3, mamamedusa

          a support system.

          When I was a kid, almost every house on the block had a parent at home during the day, because one salary was enough to support a middle class lifestyle. That was killed during the Reagan era. Now a family needs two incomes.

          Most middle and lower class families are between a rock and a hard place. I don't think hitting them with a hammer, even lightly, would improve the situation.

          Living wages would help. Child care centers for sick children staffed by immunized child care workers might help, but we don't have anything like that available anywhere. Time off with pay for sick children would help.

          When our enemies are drowning, we throw them anvils. Fellow Americans with sick children are not our enemies.

          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government is incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:46:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  We've had isolated cases of students getting ill. (8+ / 0-)

    Generally the diagnosis has not been shared, but we are still open, so it is unlikely to be H1N1.

    If there is an outbreak of H1N1, classes are scheduled to be held online, through Blackboard, as much as possible.  Makes it sort of hard for labs and art studio, but other than that, we might make it through.

  •  I'd like for the H1N1 vaccine denyers to STFU (6+ / 0-)

    until after flu season is over. Then, If they haven't gotton sick or no one in their family has died as the result of H1N1, they might have a spot to stand on to express their vitriol.  

  •  You have to look very carefully at the statistics (7+ / 0-)

    across the population as a whole, it appears mild, and people shrug and think "no biggie".  But once it's broken down by age cohort, the most significant impact is on kids 5-17.  Which is to say, school age.  

    If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

    by marykk on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:37:57 AM PDT

  •  a friend in Ma (0+ / 0-)

    told me of a university professor who's child is in hospital for 2 weeks due to H1N1 and says the totals are being suppressed.
    WTF?
    peace

    •  "suppressed" is a conspiratorial take (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, mommyof3, mamamedusa

      the CDC stopped requesting that definitive testing be done once we recognized that we were in a pandemic.  We already knew that H1N1 would be widespread, so why waste resources on exact reporting seemed to be the reasoning.

      The numbers can't be 'suppressed' because they don't exist.

      (-8.50, -7.54) Only the educated are free. -Epictetus

      by Tin hat mafia on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:55:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  testing is very expensive (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, mommyof3, mamamedusa

        when they have already determined that the majority of the flu cases are H1N1, why waste all that money testing?

        I heard that one estimate was that each test cost about $300.  I don't know what kind of test that was.

        That is a lot of money.

        If it is not going to effect the treatment, why spend $300 per test, to find out that the vast majority of circulating cases are H1N1?

  •  we are trying to track thru nurse's office (6+ / 0-)

    when we are notified by parents we inform her.  We are also now notifying of any student out 3 consecutive days -  that of course might be for other reasons.

    I have just over 180 students.  So far I have been notified by the parents of three, and one more notified us directly.  I have at least 5 more who have been out 4 or more days -  and these are from my AP classes where they are rarely out.  One just came back Friday after a week out, but he insists he had ordinary flu - I don't know if he was tests for H1N1.

    Our absences are running a bit higher than normal for this time of the year.  So far I think we have had one staff member diagnosed.  That's in a school with 2,800+ students, perhaps 200+ staff members.  

    I read early this past week that Bates College had 250 diagnosed cases.

    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:47:27 AM PDT

    •  I know a few school and health dept nurses (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, Catte Nappe, mommyof3

      They all say they're seeing lots of flu.  Right now, one county in our region is struggling with the health department staff being down with flu.  Kinda hard to run immunization events without public health nurses.

    •  "Regular" flu? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, Orinoco, mommyof3, mamamedusa

      There is almost no regular flu around right now. Why is it people want to insist they don't have the new H1N1 strain? It's not like an STD or something, it shouldn't be socially unacceptable.

      "The required presence of health professionals did not make interrogation methods safer, but sanitized their use" Physicians for Human Rights

      by Catte Nappe on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:19:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Flu now = H1N1 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, Orinoco, mommyof3

        We need improved public health information.  People need to understand the basic clinical reasoning used during infectious disease outbreaks:  If you have flu symptoms during a global H1N1 pandemic, assume you have H1N1.  And stay home.

        •  And even "not" flu = H1N1 (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming, Orinoco, mommyof3, mamamedusa

          I'm hearing not flu because the test was negative; except false negatives are very common.

          It's not flu because I don't have a fever; except many confirmed H1N1 cases are presenting without a fever.

          It's not flu, just a tummy bug; except unlike most flu H1N1 is often showing with vomiting and diarrhea.

          "The required presence of health professionals did not make interrogation methods safer, but sanitized their use" Physicians for Human Rights

          by Catte Nappe on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:38:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  no fever? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Catte Nappe, mommyof3

            you said that many cases of H1N1 have not had fever?

            My husband has been down with a bug for 6 days now, but no fever,

            I didn't think it could be H1N1.

            •  Maybe as many as 40 - 50% (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mommyof3

              Many people suffering from swine influenza, even those who are severely ill, do not have fever, an odd feature of the new virus that could increase the difficulty of controlling the epidemic, said a leading American infectious-disease expert who examined cases in Mexico last week.

              http://www.nytimes.com/...

              If he's got most of the other symptoms, he may very well have it.

              "The required presence of health professionals did not make interrogation methods safer, but sanitized their use" Physicians for Human Rights

              by Catte Nappe on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 11:19:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  We're in VA, too (4+ / 0-)

    We all got sick; I'm assuming it's H1N1, but it's not confirmed.  Two of my kids got better pretty quickly, and the policy is they have to be out 24 hours after the last sign of fever.  When you call to report an absence, they ask if the child has "flu-like symptoms".

    My other daughter has been out of school a week and I think we finally licked the fever.  I was surprised when I brought her to the pediatrician on our 6th day of fever.  He didn't do any tests; just said her ears and chest were clear, so it must be a sinus infection and gave her antibiotics.  I'm not sure he was right, but her fever finally died down after the 1st day of double dose of antibiotics, so who's to say?

    School has definitely been affected in the manner you describe.  Lots of kids out, lots of getting kids up to speed when they return.

    Seems to me they need to come up with a better policy for dealing with make-up work; or declaring the next few weeks, "catch-up".  

    It's disruptive, for sure.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 08:51:16 AM PDT

  •  At the my university, efforts were taken (4+ / 0-)

    at the beginning of the semester to reduce the spread.  But what can you do with people coming from all over the world, on planes through airports, etc., to meet together and form an efficient incubator?

    They put hand sanitizer stations at all building entrances, and outside elevators at each floor.  There are even additional custodial staff that go around daily disinfecting door handles and the buttons on the elevators.  

    Faculty was advised to report lengthy absences so that students could be checked up on (a necessity where student's don't have local support systems).

    All in all, you can't really stop it.  It seems to be in heavy 'rotation', with a consistent number of students sick at any given time.  No numbers available, since definitive testing isn't done unless hospitalization is warranted, but I don't believe that has been the case at our campus yet.

    (-8.50, -7.54) Only the educated are free. -Epictetus

    by Tin hat mafia on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:01:48 AM PDT

  •  Lots of hand sanitizer! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3

    Faculty were instructed before classes started to be flexible with attendance policies this semester.  New signs encouraging respiratory etiquette and handwashing went up all over campus.  The bathrooms got new paper towel dispensers that facilitate good handwashing (dispensing paper towels without using hands so you can turn the water off with a dry towel).

    Bottles of alcohol-gel hand sanitizer were distributed all over campus.  The stuff is everywhere.  In my particular corner of campus, some of us brought in our own disinfectant wipes to use on high-touch surfaces.

    We had a few lab-confirmed cases of H1N1 early in the semester, and there's been the expected jump in student illness since they quit doing the tests that suggests it's still going around.  I'm seeing it more in the community than on campus right now.

    The local health department ran H1N1 immunization clinics this past week.  Monday they got pregnant women and preschool kids; Friday they did school-age kids.  They had already done seasonal flu clinics in the schools for the elementary-age kids.

    I haven't heard about a jump in school absences among the kids here locally.  I know the St. Louis area schools are being hit hard right now.  Several have been shut down; others are soldiering on with hundreds of absences.

  •  In my pre-school classroom (5+ / 0-)

    I used a washable ink pad to illustrate how germs can spread. Some of the children transferred their prints onto the table, while others spread the 'germs' left behind.

    Germs can make us sick.

    But, we can wash the germs away from our hands and the surfaces we touched. Germs do not like soap and water.

    Not much, but a start.

    We also have been diligently disinfecting the classroom at the end of the day, much like the infant rooms. All toys are soaked in bleach and water, all surfaces wiped down. More work for the staff, yes, but much safer for the kids.

    Growing old is inevitable...Growing up is purely optional

    by grannycarol on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:27:47 AM PDT

  •  What happens (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, Catte Nappe, mommyof3, mamamedusa

    when the teachers start going out in great numbers? Even if it is not H1N1, constantly being around sick kids is going to take its toll. Who takes care of the caretakers?

    "There must be more to life than having everything" -Maurice Sendak

    by lilypew on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 09:28:06 AM PDT

  •  Relax (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, mommyof3, hulagirl, coquiero

    I think the response of holding students out of school until afebrile for a day seems reasonable, but has failed because novel H1N1 is contagious at least 1 day prior to onset of illness, and while the patient is less contagious once afebrile, there still is significant viral shedding for many more days http://id_center.apic.org/... So, we are all going to be exposed likely multiple times.  And as the delivery of vaccine has been severely delayed due to production difficulties, there really is no good method to protect our schoolkids.  Fortunately, this illness is almost always handled without difficulty by the patient with fluids, patience, and comfort care.

    •  Not worried about exposure... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, mamamedusa

      already know that has happened-- my daughter and husband are both recovering from it.  

      My diary is about the way schools handle this-- absentee policies, make-up work, how to deal with sick faculty, etc.

      About this:

      Fortunately, this illness is almost always handled without difficulty by the patient with fluids, patience, and comfort care.

       True... I, of course, live somewhere where lots of these sick kids are already at a disadvantage... extra anything (medicine, fluids, etc.) isn't free...

      Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

      by mommyof3 on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 11:06:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our two biggest challenges (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mommyof3, mamamedusa

    are getting people to keep sick kids home and getting enough healthy subs for sick teachers.  The office is never without at least two sick kids in it.   The odds of one of those kids having been absent the day before are pretty high.  People who are stuck for sick-child care send their kids back too soon.

    Subs are always at a premium but now it's even more of a problem.  Yesterday, the counselor subbed in a classroom for part of the day and I picked up a couple of periods at the end of the day.  We managed to cover all classes, but not by much.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sat Oct 24, 2009 at 01:12:03 PM PDT

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