Swine Flu. Just When Schools Thought They Had Heard of Everything.

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Common Sense.

You may not have heard, but there seems to be a problem with Swine Flu. It hasn’t really been covered by the news media, so don’t feel badly if you’ve missed it (this is a little thing I like to call sarcasm).

The way it has been explained to me, it could be a pandemic.

I am not sure what a pandemic means, but it sure sounds scary.

There must not be anything else newsworthy at this time of year in order for this story to become so big.

While I don’t want to take this situation lightly, I have grown up in the generation that has been beset by the end of the world on at least 20 different occasions.

The Cold War. Shark attacks. Hurricanes. Fires. Wars. Cigarettes. Y2K. Bird flu. Terrorists. O.J. Anthrax. Planes crashing into stuff. The Unabomber. Global warming. Banks. Weapons of Mass Destruction. Pirates. Drug cartels. Sarah Palin. Gangs taking over schools. Paris Hilton. Michael Jackson and that creepy monkey (or creepy Michael Jackson and that monkey).

There has been a chance all of these could affect me directly and in some cases deliver my untimely death. I was especially concerned about bumping into O.J. at a golf course.

On top of that, the good people at the National Weather Service now tell me a tornado or some sort of storm is going to attack me.

Every 15 minutes. Right in the middle of my favorite TV show.

I have become numb.

As usual the focus of health and safety is dropped directly in the lap of public schools.

The government in all their wisdom (again… for the uninitiated, this is called sarcasm), has recommended that public schools be shut down for at least 14 days if there is a suspicion that a student has a headache, bellyache, or the sniffles that were contrived from a pig.

Easy enough. Students seldom complain about not feeling well while they are at school. Shouldn’t be too hard to tell if a child has picked up the flu from a farm animal.

President Obama might have been more helpful if he had insisted, during his speech, that all schools should clean (w/ bleach) all desks, door handles, bathrooms, etc. each and every night. No exceptions.

Put us all on notice.

To me, this is a better plan of action than just saying this new flu strain is “bad” and we should be careful.

And we need to remember to wash our hands.

Closing schools or even talking about it should be a last resort.

In these difficult economic times, asking parents (especially single parents) to find and pay for extra day care for up to two weeks is a huge burden.

I am not saying that we shouldn’t take the Swine Flu seriously, because we should.

But taking students from schools and putting them around other kids in day care doesn’t really seem like progress to me.

I wonder if our country’s efforts to educate people through the media crosses the line, and we end up just scaring ourselves.

And our children. And older people.

There are so many other issues that don’t seem to qualify as “breaking news”. Most have been on our radar for years and unfortunately don’t have a catchy name like Swine Flu (it should be noted flu is so much scarier when it comes from an animal… I am dreading the Dog Flu next winter because all Buddy the Dog wants to do is lick me and nap).

In 2008, the following are numbers of people predicted to die from each disease or event (yes, I did actual research for this blog… please don’t come to expect this type of extra effort in the future… information taken from the Disease Control and Prevention Database).

In the United States 307,655 people would die of cancer.

7,258 of skin cancer. 21,289 of colon cancer. 26,987 of prostate cancer.

Oh, it gets better. Or worse if it happens to you. Especially if you were one of the 12,372 people who were murdered.

57 people perished by falling off a cliff. 1 person “bit” it by a shark attack. 40 were killed when struck by lightning.

4,624 died in a motorcycle accident. 1,062 unfortunately fell down steps, and didn’t get up.

8,432 passed away from HIV/AIDS. Remember when this was the “breaking story”? Now old news.

It’s not as exciting to report on anymore. But people are still sick.

It goes on and on. 7 died from an incident with sports equipment. 1,737 in a fire. 2 got it when their idiot doctor left something in them during surgery.

28 in an earthquake, avalanche, or landslide.

55,105 had a stroke from which they didn’t recover.

43 got stung by a bee and didn’t recover.

My point here… research is exhausting. And it is evidently not safe to leave your house, play sports, or have surgery.

Americans get sick, hurt, and die from lots of things. What we shouldn’t do is scare children needlessly and close schools because it makes people feel better temporarily.

Schools certainly have to do their part, but why are we the only ones being mentioned that need to help slow down the pandemic.

What about malls? And churches? And businesses, factories, colleges, the Kentucky Derby, NASCAR, Major League Baseball games, the NBA playoffs and even CNN?

I wouldn’t be surprised if more people work in the CNN building in Atlanta than there are children attending school in the 5 closest counties to me.

Any chance they will close? Didn’t think so.

Can’t we be proactive with our safety and still use good judgment?

I think the only thing that won’t recover from this latest drama is our common sense as a country.

It may be dead forever.

Please remember to cover your mouth when you cough, wash your hands, and stay at home if you are sick.

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13 Responses to “Swine Flu. Just When Schools Thought They Had Heard of Everything.”


  1. Kim Wren
    on May 3rd, 2009
    @ 4:11 pm

    Say it isn’t so!! Although it is refreshing to see all that encouraging research you shared, I totally gotta agree with you here! Stop the hysteria and just go wash your hands! Maybe it isn’t too late…. :)


  2. Tim
    on May 3rd, 2009
    @ 4:11 pm

    So, once again, good post.

    I’m not sure Sarah Palin was a sign of the end of the world, she didn’t win and the only people in serious danger would have been those dressing like moose in Alaska during hunting season (and who knows if she is really a good shot)… I digress…

    I do wonder what happens when you close school for 14 days for the flu, do we get to (have to) make those up? Did anyone check with the teachers union to see if it is ok to close school? Wouldn’t that trigger a contract negotiation???

    Is it coincidence that while talking about lack of common sense the thread spirals to the point of discussing teachers unions? I feel a wave of nausea coming on…. is it hot in here?

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Tim, You may be catching the flu. You might want to go lay down.

    P.Polzer Reply:

    @Tim, Good grief..you are right on…though Sarah Palin is someone I would like to meet. Its as if the media wants to steer away from the really important topics, Obama, economy, nuclear threats, North Korea, Pakistan. Its as if the media thinks we are all fluff and media wants to bluff us into forgetting. Media will nominate and approve what ever they think will sell, not want Americans need.


  3. Diane
    on May 3rd, 2009
    @ 4:32 pm

    The Deer Park school district here on Long Island decided to close all 6 of its schools for a week due to 2 suspected cases of swine flu. They don’t even know for sure what kind of flu it is and they’re closing the whole district down. I think they’re overreacting just a little.

    Maybe all the napping Buddy’s doing is an early symptom of Dog flu? You should send him to the CDC and get him checked out. He may be the world’s only hope for a cure.

    Michael Smith Reply:

    @Diane, Buddy the Dog can’t even walk himself to bed… he has to be carried.

    Could be a sign of the flu. I was just assuming he was spoiled and lazy.


  4. Nedra
    on May 3rd, 2009
    @ 4:42 pm

    I agree wholeheartedly that we have lost common sense on this issue. In NY a letter had to go home to every family about the Swine Flu. Think of the paper that was used and the cost of the postage. Plus a colored poster had to be printed and hung in every classroom, that might have just been a district policy. Our school installed a hand sanitizer machine in my computer lab on Friday. I suggested it might help more if I had something to clean the keyboards occasionally. Trust me, despite being told to sneeze/cough into the elbow most don’t do that and most don’t even bother to use their hands. I guess we just have to wait for the next crisis to push the Swine Flu out of the center focus. It’s reassuring to know I’m not the only one that thinks our country has gone a little crazy on this issue.


  5. Shea Smith
    on May 3rd, 2009
    @ 10:07 pm

    Well said. This shows the level of hysteria we have reached: http://pic.im/2Dv (wish I knew the artist/source on this one).
    If you are showing symptoms, as described in the media reports, see http://doihavepigflu.com/
    *not to be confused with: http://doihaveswineflu.org/


  6. Angie
    on May 4th, 2009
    @ 6:50 am

    I’m in Texas, ground one of the swine flu (since Mexico is ground zero). Several districts around mine have closed, and, frankly, I’m thinking it’s only a matter of time before we do. (I think we don’t have any cases yet because some parents don’t take their children to the doctor when sick.) Purell is sold old at Wal Mart, and all activities are cancelled. Rumor has it that we won’t have to make up the days, just like when Hurricane Ike hit. I guess we could call this Hurricane Wilbur. Schools don’t have a choice to shut down; the health department demands it. But, the state test is over, so I guess it doesn’t matter if school closes; we’re done anyway, right?


  7. MiddleSchoolSecretary
    on May 5th, 2009
    @ 11:42 am

    I couldn’t agree with this post more. We had a threatened school closure for two weeks because of a “probable” case. Two weeks of disrupting the lives of 900 families because one kid might have had a non-fatal flu. Insanity.


  8. Calm Down Citizens. Schools Can Remain Open Despite the Swine Flu. Duh. | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on May 8th, 2009
    @ 6:05 pm

    [...] On May 5, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced they were no longer recommending that schools close based on a suspected case of Swine Flu. [...]


  9. Pat
    on May 11th, 2009
    @ 4:54 am

    I love how you put everything back into perspective. We thought about coming home early from our trip when this first broke in the news. Then we decided that we wouldn’t join in the general panic but if the pandemic level hit 6, we would head for home. I’m glad we didn’t cut our trip short for this. This was a great post (and I did like all the statistics)!


  10. Which Will Make Me Sicker? The Swine Flu or the Media? | PrincipalsPage The Blog
    on Aug 15th, 2009
    @ 8:14 am

    [...] winter I wrote (slopped down… whatever) two blogs about the overreaction surrounding this country’s newest arch nemesis… the Swine [...]

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