The "sweeney flu" comes to FL
And of course, the first case in the entire state is in my county. **
In my school district (an elementary student).
Thankfully, though, not my school.
All schools in the area received a letter yesterday informing parents that there was a "suspicious case" in the district. At the time, they weren't releasing the name of the school (although we found out by the end of the day). Today, they confirmed that it was the swine flu, that a 2nd student at the school was likely to have it, and another TEN were beginning to show symptoms (such as very high fevers). They finally decided, today, to shut down the school. (Ya think?) The district, however, remains open. (Damn.)
When the letters went home yesterday, my kids panicked, with one kid decrying that he "wanted to live to see puberty!" I told them that the chances of this actually being the swine flu were very small (oops. Now they'll never believe anything I tell them again, LOL), and that even if it WAS, it was probably not our school anyway (at least I was right about SOMETHING). At which point I went into a very unfortunately-timed coughing fit.
When I was done, I looked up to see the whole class shrinking away from me in horror.
"Guys," I said. "I'm fine. I don't have the sweeney flu." (Since one of my kids asked me what the word 'sweeney' meant when reading a previous letter about the 'swine' flu, it's become kind of a class joke.) And then I started coughing again. (I've had this cough for a couple of weeks now, due primarily to quitting smoking.)
Anyway, the hard thing about being a teacher, especially to elementary kids, is that they look to you for guidance and reassurance, in everything from fire drills and "stranger drills" (those ones REALLY freak them out) to possible outbreaks of the sweeney flu. I spent a good 30 minutes (that was our social studies of the day) talking about how they would be fine, they had nothing to worry about, and they would, in fact, live to see puberty. They literally hung on every word as I calmly reassured them that they would be safe and healthy. "Look at me," I said. "Do I look worried? Scared? No. You'll be FINE." But it's just kind of weird, really--I've never experienced it as a parent, of course, but sometimes you have to keep a game face on, no matter how YOU feel on the inside. And it was...what's the word?...humbling, I guess, to realize that, even if I don't always feel like it, I'm a grownup, dammit--and as their teacher, I'm one of the constants in their lives. For some of them, they spend more time with me during the day than with their own parents. And every now and then, something happens to make me realize--damn. They really do depend on me, and for a lot more than teaching them how to multiply fractions or figure out the main idea of a passage.
Luckily, I didn't find out about this case was actually confirmed until after school, so I won't have to deal with the fallout this weekend. I can imagine, though, that they are all huddled under their beds with flashlights, and that M. is once again mentally kissing puberty goodbye.
** And O.M.G. It's like the media's wet dream. Check out news-press.com and tell me if the "SWINE FLU HITS LEE COUNTY" banner is still there, along with the 35 related stories. I really don't see why it's such a big deal..I mean, only one person has died in the U.S. from this whole thing. I think MALARIA has killed more than that this year. Or...or...what's another random disease? The flesh-eating bacteria. Yet there are no "YOUR SKIN IS BEING EATEN AWAY AS YOUR READ THIS" stories. God. It's the flu. A different strain, sure, but if you go to the doc and get the freakin' Tamiflu, you'll be fine. Hell, SYPHILLIS is scarier than this. And Renee should know.