Our school system is dealing with a very fluid situation, as information about the swine flu changes from minute to minute. My sense, currently, is that it’s real, it’s out there, it’s spreading fast (as if it was November, not April) and, in the U.S., it’s not a very serious threat as compared to any other flu. As to that last, it may be because our flu shots provide limited immunity; because we’re healthier than people in Mexico; because we have better medical care; because, being a combination of flus, we in America have already been exposed to part of it; or something else I haven’t thought of.
The school system’s current policy — today’s policy — is that any kids with any symptoms (headache, sniffles, cough, fever, vomiting) have to go home. As you notice, the last two symptoms are significant in any event of something bad. I don’t send a feverish or vomiting child to school. Those middle two, though, are pretty significant right now because they’re precisely the same symptoms as your average April allergy.
My son always has sniffles from March through May. His allergy symptoms have never been serious enough for me to medicate him. They’re worse in the morning but, by the time he’s blown his nose and run around, they’re gone. My laissez faire policy, however, bit me in the butt today. The school, very politely, refuses to take my child until he’s symptom free — or until he has a note from his doctor.
He already saw the doctor early this week (“kids’ fine, no flu, maybe a slight cold and, definitely allergies”), but I didn’t get a note, because it didn’t occur to me to do so. By today, however, the poor doctor is so overwhelmed, as is the entire system in which he works, that I can’t get a note. Until then, I’ve stocked up on allergy meds.
As I said, the school is dealing with a fluid system, and I do believe in “better safe than sorry.” Until we have more information about the flu’s reach and impact, the schools here are doing the right thing. Having said that, I’ve got a sniffly, bored, and entirely healthy little boy at home, for the third day in a row, and neither of us is very happy. I wonder how often this scenario is being played out, right now, across the U.S. And although I’m situated so that I can manage having him home (I work at home, and am a second income, and I’m in a slow period of work anyway), I wonder how many other Moms and Dads are scrambling to deal with a healthy child at home.
UPDATE: And the problem seems to be with Mexico, not with the flu. That is, the flu is probably a mild one, but Mexico is unable to deal with it.