Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So apparently swine flu is a thing now?

I had a kid tell me today that he almost didn't come to school because of swine flu. Several other kids echoed this. Seriously.

Now obviously, what most of them mean is that they told their parents, "I don't want to go to school" and their parents asked, "why not?" and the kids responded, "umm..... swine flu?" because the mostly just wanted some excuse. And of course, swine flu is a big deal in Mexico.

But it's amazing to me the things we care about and the things we totally ignore. 20 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with swine flu (none in DC, Maryland, or Virginia) and only one has required hospitalization. And think about how many news stories have been written on this topic. Now this question: how many DCPS students have been killed this year alone? Which problem deserves a press release?

Update: I tried looking up how many students in DCPS have been killed this year (or any given year). Couldn't find it. In fact, the only urban school district that I could find the information for was Chicago Public Schools, which has seen 28 students killed so far this school year. It's interesting (sad? infuriating?) to think about which types of numbers make news, and which don't.

Another Update: So after school today I was watching TV at the gym (don't be impressed -- I walked at a fast clip for like 20 minutes before going home, drinking a beer, and eating ice cream) and I saw that there are now like hundreds of cases of swine flu. So apparently this thing is a big deal. My bad. Still, I'd like to think that there's a point to be made in asking why the flu gets more coverage than the violence the plagues our city. Right?


Anonymous said...

Funny you mentioned this. My school actually issued a note home today informing parents about Swine Flu. It emphasized that no one in DC has it, but that precaution and being informed is important. Apparently, fear and inflated news stories are as contagious as Swine Flu itself.

Anonymous said...

My school too sent something home on our listserve, which some parents created and now the principal uses.

Glenn Watson said...

You are right that the Swine flu is no excuse to miss school, yet, but this flu is no joke. In 1919 the Spanish Flu killed maybe 50 million world wide. This one could get really bad or it might turn out to be less significant. I am telling my students to double their hand washing time and not to come to school if they are sick.

Progressive Educator said...

People are already saying Mexico is not doing enough to help people. Also, there's a school in NY where many children got sick and people are questioning, "DID THE SCHOOL DO ENOUGH?"

Some may think schools are overreacting by sending out notices, but the schools are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Best to send them out and avoid a lawsuit.

Glenn Watson said...

The state just closed every school in my county for two days because two kids in one classroom probably have Swine Flu. Its weird to be home today, but it does give me time to catch up on some grading.