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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Call it a flu vacation

There's been a lot of discussion about how prepared we might be medically in case of a bird flu pandemic. But not a lot of attention has been paid to how a serious quarantine would play out. Schools, for example, might have to cope with keeping education going while being closed for weeks:

Schools may be ordered to close to prevent spreading the disease.

In Massachusetts, school administrators are considering using an automated phone bank to announce homework assignments and update parents. Another plan would use the Internet for communication between students and their teachers.

But those plans are limited, and many places have had budget cuts in technology, said Tom Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents. "I don't think we're anywhere near having a systemic way of approaching this," he said.

No kidding. My colleague Bob Caylor, writing about the subject for our page yesterday, got this out of Fort Wayne Community Schools:

. . . Fort Wayne Community Schools isn't likely to provide assignments to children who would stay home.

“We don't have a plan if a pandemic comes around; we can't turn 53 buildings, 32,000 students and 1,800 teachers into a kind of virtual school. We couldn't even do that in a year. We don't have a plan for sending curriculum by e-mail to students,” FWCS spokeswoman Debbie Morgan said.

Posted in: Our town


Bob G.
Fri, 03/24/2006 - 6:38am

....Excuse me, but there are NO plans to send schoolwork HOME to students who may fall victim of the (bird) flu????

Geez, and I thought the Easter Bunny gig as ridiculous!

((hint - Hey Debbie...slide over and let me show you how to be a spokesperson))

I had a severe bout of double pneumonia while in the 3rd grade. My assigments were sent home (by the request of my mother), and when I was well enough to sit up and write, guess what?
I played "catch-up" until I made up all the backlog, and THEN I got to do the current work assigned.
Never missed a beat, and did NOT get "left behind" (and the grades were all A or B).
And back in the Jurassic Age of schooling (the late 50s), we did NOT have anything approaching a computer (for emails).
So I see absolutely NO excuse to NOT send along the work by whatever means is at hand (teachers, other students, etc).
If this nation is so (rightly) concerned over NO child left behind......I can't think of a better way than to "Return to those days of yesteryear" (with apologies to the Lone Ranger).

Bob G.

Fri, 03/24/2006 - 11:24am

Bob, I think your focus is narrow, YOU were sick. We're talking about a potential pandemic, lots of schoolkids sick, teachers sick, administrators sick. This bird flu is scary stuff and I don't wish to be an alarmist but I hope and pray it doesn't come.

Bob G.
Fri, 03/24/2006 - 12:06pm

I recall when the Asian Flu came as well as the Hong Kong flu....in hindsight, it seems kind of *overplayed* even though those flus were of a strain NOT disimilar to the bird flu we have today. The most recent mutation IS but a mere *leftover* from previous flus...that's just how they work.

Regarding illnesses, I might have represented ONE case, but you have to admit that it DOES come down to having the PARENT(s) care, and having a SCHOOL SYSTEM that would ASSURE that the kids did not *fall behind*. My mom was far from extraordinary...she was just plain folk trying to make sure her son had a decent shot at a good education. SHe just did what she thought she had to do. If you want to call that remarkable...so be it. It was just the way things worked back then.

I'm sure if parents ASK for the homework..it WILL be handed out. The problem will be getting them to *ask*, instead of having to be *told*. Aye, there's the rub....
And that's also how we help one another.

FWCS does need to get a plan in place, or face losing federal money (because they WILL have children left behind)...and that ALONE should provide more motivation than a angry D.I. at Parris Island on a Monday...!!!


Bob G.

Sat, 03/25/2006 - 2:42am

Bob, I don't disagree with your comments but I recall stories my grandparents told of the pandemic in 1918 (or was it 17?). They were a young married couple living in Kingsport, TN, at the time, a large portion of the population was sick, not like the Asian flu, not like the Hong Kong flu, but a much more generally spread illness. The entire family living right next door to them died. I'm talking about the kind of widspread sickness that would make homework seem rather secondary.

Bob G.
Sat, 03/25/2006 - 9:21am

That was the (worldwide) "Spanish Flu" outbreak of 1918-1919, and one has to take in consideration the advances in medicine over the past 80 or so years. That alone can go far to ensure that the number of deaths will be lower.
The same cannot be said for countries without the medical means to either prevent OR combat any pandemic.
The simple task of washing one's hands goes a LONG way to avoid transmittal, as does wearing masks (like they do Japan, for example).
Those most at risk in ANY situation such as the one we face will be those with immune system deficiencies (due to prior illness or even diet), the elderly, and infants, especially preemies.

Let's hope the CDC and WHO are all over this one.