Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Our flu break

This year we all had an extended flu break in lieu of a spring break. In fact, Tori’s school was set to have a four day weekend this year instead of a longer spring break. Then the Government of Hong Kong stepped in and cancelled all primary school classes to contain a flu outbreak. Classes everywhere were cancelled from March 12 until April 1.

As we were just out of the hospital with Royce and wary of all infection, the forced closing of schools really didn’t bother us at all. I was happy to let the kids sleep in, play at home and hit our own curriculum without fear of outside contamination. But it was still a little frightening to see people walking around with masks over their mouths and to see the occasional (probably not flu related) ambulance pull up to our building. In the three weeks we were out, we were all healthy and so were all of our friends. In our social set, there is usually some kid sick at all times but this was not the case during the flu break. We could see the reduction in common colds and can only hope a similar reduction was at play on flu illnesses as well.

We spent the break at home, and then feeling braver at the pool. Faced with us all going stir crazy in our smallish apartment, I did decide that the pool was a safe bet, figuring the chlorine might kill something harmful. I am not sure that is sound reasoning but the time out of the apartment did save my sanity.

The flu that concerned the authorities here was a known flu virus, not the avian flu or the SARS virus. There were a number of deaths this year at the start of the flu season and people did start to panic. Some felt that there was an overreaction to the threat. Others who lived in Hong Kong during SARS tended to feel that caution was a good thing. Regardless, we all survived our home stay, remained healthy and the kids are now back at school.

The only reminder of the flu break is that the kids are having a hard time waking up early on the school schedule again. And there is some additional paperwork. From now until the threat is deemed gone, Tori must submit a form stating her temperature is normal before entering the school grounds every day. All the kids were initially upset by the new routine. The kids have now accepted the morning temperature routine. Adam actually loves it and now takes and records his temperature multiple times throughout the day. A little neurotic but probably not the worst of childhood habits.


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