Most likely, it’s already among us. Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) is not talking about the known cases, the people in isolation or quarantine, the cases that can’t be traced to travel in high-risk areas; it’s the mundane incidents of persons who are advised to stay home and avoid contact with others.
Due to a lack of tests, doctors suspect but cannot confirm.
So they give the best advice they can: your kid has a touch of the ‘flu,’ keep your kid home, contact the school and advise that, upon medical advice, you won’t be sending your kid back to class for two weeks.
It’s not panic time. Unlike Ebola, which had a 100% fatality rate until the world’s medical authorities found treatments that turned a death sentence into something less, the coronavirus, more specifically Covid-19, has nothing near that.
Even the reported rate is skewed as it includes all deaths, including those from Wuhan, China, where the virus originated, during the time when China was in denial and treatments were not known. As medical authorities have gained experience with treatment, the death rate outside of China’s epicenter is much less.
And China, once awoken, having imposed strict regiments and quarantines, has seen its incidence rate peak, plateau, and begin to decline.
But as the virus spreads around the world, precautions are in order.
GOT’s school district provided this list of planned actions to prevent persons traveling in high-risk areas of the world from going to a school (telephone instead) to enroll until an appropriate period of time has gone by. Families and children will be supported by home education as an alternative.
International travel is banned. For previously planned and paid for trips, school officials will review the itineraries to determine if they should be canceled. High-risk areas will not be permitted. The same goes for out-of-state and out-of-county trips.
Students returning from high-risk areas should not return to school until their parents have contacted the school about how the students’ education will resume.
But the talk of the hallway was about the planned sanitizing of school facilities over the next week as we are taking our spring break. In particular, conversation centered on the provision of hand sanitizer and what the custodial staff would actually do with the cleaning supplies as they perform the directed sanitizing of schools.
Would the supplies of hand sanitizer be distributed to classrooms? It is an important issue because many children do not wash their hands when using the bathroom. They return to their classroom and ask for the hand sanitizer. (If you are wondering, GOT sends them back to the bathroom to wash their hands. Handwashing is far more effective than the use of an alcohol-based hand rub.)
Word has seeped through the ranks that the hand sanitizer would be available in common areas, but would not be placed in classrooms. Talk about a morale booster! Secondary teachers who do not move through common areas during class change will not have access to a means to protect their health, but at least the district is looking out for the children.
Then there is the maddeningly lack of detail over what the sanitization of facilities procedures will be. Listening to the radio, we hear that everything that is commonly touched by many people should be wiped down with an EPA-approved antiviral product. Examples include door knobs, coffee machines, and the like.
Exactly what is being done? Rumor suggested it would only be the common areas and the custodial staff would not cleanse the classrooms. Because children don’t spend most of their time in a classroom? Because children don’t touch everything with germy hands? Because children naturally do things they hate to do and don’t need an adult to supervise their health, diets, cleanliness, etc.?
It’s not really reassuring to say that schools will be sanitized with special products when we don’t know what that entails. This is not an issue to fob off the public with a show of doing something. Coronavirus is not a public relations problem. It is a real health concern.
And so, GOT devised a way to know. When he returns to his classroom in ten days, he will know whether anything was done.