Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Swine flu closes several Johannesburg schools: should you keep your precious at home?

I am not sure my daughter's school secretary believed me when I phoned her on Tuesday morning to tell her - quite truthfully - that ten-year-old Elinor had a strep throat, a little cough and a few swollen glands, and that I was keeping her at home for a day or two.

If the school secretary didn't believe me, I don't blame her: she's probably received dozens of similar calls from parents this week. And I am sure she has been as unfailingly polite and sympathetic with me as she has been with every one of the parents who have phoned her to say that their darling Emmas and Sarahs and Jessicas won't be in for the last few days of term.

And my darling little Elinor won't be in, either. Yes, she does have just a cold, and, yes, I know that this is a mild bacterial event, and that she'll in all likelihood be fine in a few days.

But, to be truthful, the long and the short of it is that I'm keeping her at home, against all my normally strict school-skipping criteria (see below) because I don't want her, with her little cold, to catch swine flu.

Because if she gets it, I will get it, and - as I am not in as rude a state of health as she is - I will probably have to go to bed for a week.

And, without blowing my own trumpet (or mixing metaphors), I modestly declare that I am the central pole that holds up the family circus tent. If I get sick, darkness will enfold my family. Children will starve, or be abandoned on roadsides. The fridge will be empty. No meals will be served. Homework and studying will not proceed. The elephants will stampede. The clowns will go psycho. The mummy blanket will collapse.

So, should you keep your little darling at home?


Here are my criteria, honed over decades, for deciding whether an average healthy child is 'sick' enough to stay home:

Namely, you may skip school if you display the following symptoms:

a) you have a temperature above 38 degrees celsius
b) you have an alarming rash on your limbs or trunk, or any rash that looks infectious
c) you seem to have flu, and are clearly unwell
d) you have conjunctivitis, impetigo or any other fast-spreading local infection
e) you have a severe gastric disorder: namely, you have erupted at least three times during the night, on opposite ends of your body
f) we had to call an ambulance in the middle of the night, for whatever reason
g) (rarely, and only with compelling circumstances) you are a teenager who is so overwhelmed by the pressures of life that you just need a duvet day.

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nikita said...

Of course you should keep her at home, no question at all. You are responsible for other kids' health too when you have a child in school, as well as teachers' health. If (big if) she does have it, just think what could happen to all in one single school with her all around and being responsible - as you seem to be - you make sure she gets better herself too. Health takes priority...everybody's health.

Juno said...

Nikita, I was feeling rather guilty until I read your comment. Thanks for the feedback! Elinor is still pale, wan and tired, and still coughing, so it was just as well I kept her at home.

nikita said...

Hi Juno, as I said on my blog too...if your child goes, the teacher might catch it too..IF she has the virus. (but other children too). If the teacher is being affected, it is also 30+ children that are being affected by the ill teacher too...(plus other kids too). You are doing the right thing! Keep her at home till you are 100% sure! Best is, take her to your GP too, as you say she's still unwell. I don't think this is something you should treat lightly.