By Ann Zeise
As some schools are closing in Mexico and the US because of the outbreak of swine flu, some families are being forced into a few weeks of “accidental” homeschooling, and they just aren’t prepared.
Some teachers may have had the time to prepare and send your children home with books and assignments to get them through a week, but maybe not longer than that. If your children have no assignments, what I advise is to encourage your healthy homebound kids to just keep reading, keep active, and to eat healthy foods.
But there are probably some of you reading this who now are considering homeschooling, and this outbreak is just the final straw. First there was the bad economy, with the cuts in income and rising prices, including cuts in school programs. Now this! You may be wondering how your child can survive in more crowded and understaffed classrooms. You may be concerned that because of “complusory education” laws, sick kids have to try to make it through the school day, or be charged with truancy. Doesn’t make sense, does it?
Homeschool families do tend to not get sick as often or as severely as families with school children. They aren’t around as many children to get sick from. Though homeschool park days or co-ops can have sick children attending, parents have no problem keeping sick kids home. A working parent can bring an infectious disease home, too. But many homeschool families often have home businesses that can carry them through.
If you homeschool in a city where the schools are closed, it would probably be a good idea to cancel large homeschool group meetings as well.
Homeschoolers can shop or take field trips when places are not crowded. It doesn’t hurt to take along some handwashing disinfectant in your purse these days! (It may NOT be a good idea to do this in ordinary times.)
Take precautions to avoid infection:
- Wash hands after bathroom, before meals and after being in public places;
- Avoid large crowds and unnecessary social contact;
- Get enough sleep;
- Drink 8 cups of liquid or more daily;
- Avoid touching other people or where they have touched;
- Cover your mouth when you cough;
- Keep fingers out of your mouth. Avoid finger food;
- Keep Kleenex handy. Avoid wiping or picking nose;
- Shop at non-peak hours;
- If you have been exposed or feel unwell, stay home;
- Use the “sani-wash” setting on your dishwasher.
- Don’t travel to areas of high infection. Avoid travelers to these places.
Prepare to be sick!
Don’t delay seeing a doctor. Get help immediately if you experience ANY of these flu-like symptoms:
- Fever above 100 degrees F, 37.8 centigrade.
- Head and body aches
- Trouble Breathing
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
Sometimes it happens that all adults and a couple of the kids all get sick at the same time. It is then nearly impossible to get to the grocery store or the pharmacy, so plan ahead and make a stash of those things you might need when ill and barely able to function. Buy items your kids can eat with a minimal amount of help from you. Now is not the time to worry about “junk food.” A few TV dinners that can be nuked in the microwave by your 8 year old may be the best you can serve at such a time. Buy items for symptom relief, such as cough drops. These won’t cure the flu, but will make you more comfortable. Have cans or boxes of chicken broth handy. Chicken soup can help relieve congestion, and may be all you can keep down. Ginger ale has a calming effect on nausea.
Here are some links to help you explain to your kids what is going on.
- Catching Up With The Flu: 20th Century Pandemics
As panic mounts over the increasing number of swine flu cases, it looks like the world is ending, with a sniffle and sneeze. But this certainly isn’t the first time humanity has had to gird itself against the threat of pandemic and, luckily for all of us, lived to tell about it. Here’s a little background on four 20th century outbreaks.
- Kids Health: What Is the Flu?
Influenza (say: in-floo-en-zah) is also called the flu. It’s an infection that causes fever, chills, cough, body aches, headaches, and sometimes earaches or sinus problems.
- Homeschoolers in Los Angeles at lower risk of swine flu
How does this affect homeschoolers? Homeschooled children do not attend full-time school, and often times, their parents do not work in offices or other closed environments where viruses are most likely to spread. By Tammy Takahashi.
- Swine Influenza and You
Infected people may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7 or more days after becoming sick. From the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Swine influenza
WHO is coordinating the global response to human cases of swine influenza A (H1N1) and monitoring the corresponding threat of an influenza pandemic. Information on this page tracks the evolving situation and provides access to both technical guidelines and information useful for the general public.