Today a fellow mom in my daughter’s class told me that her doctor husband wanted to keep their daughter home from school. She’s not sick. No one at the school is sick. Our school is nowhere near the schools that have been closed. Yet, the cloud of Swine Flu mania hovers over the city. The media keeps talking about the Pandemic, and pushing the fact that New York City is a hotbed of Swine Flu victims. And of course the fact that it is children who seem to be the victims only heightens the fear. The news coverage is so intense that my grandmother in Michigan called me because she said Larry King announced that New York City schools were closed.
Our school has not joined in the hysteria, as I’m sure most haven’t. We got the obligatory letter home from the DOE informing us of the symptoms and what to do if you think you have contracted Swine Flu. There are over 900 kids at my daughters’ school. As far as I know there was no survey done to see who had traveled to Mexico during Spring Break. I’m sure the school nurse is on alert but spring lice checks have begun so combing through all those heads of hair is taking up most of her time. And yes, lets get real, my child is more likely to get lice than the Swine Flu so I’m glad that we hire an outside “Lice Lady” just to deal with this icky task.
Other than the few people I passed on the street today wearing surgical masks, its pretty much business as usual. But this mom got me thinking – maybe I’m too laid back about this. I enforce hand washing when we get home and before eating, but at school germs are passed from child to child like secrets. There’s been an influx of Purell into the classrooms. That brings up its own set of controversy and getting the kids to use it is another matter. In the end you can’t keep your kids in a bubble. Even if they were to close the schools my kids would be out on the streets, touching elevator buttons, getting on a bus or subway, eating in a restaurant, riding an escalator, playing in a playground. There is no way to avoid other people and their germs in a city. So, I’ll send my daughters to school armed with wipes and a lecture about not picking their noses and hope that this panic will pass just like all the others before.