Monday, August 10, 2009

Swine flu, schools and parents

With Pune turning out to have the maximum number of people infected with swine flu and with 2 deaths that I last heard/read of, the scare seems to get closer home.

While I & the hubby continue going to office without second thoughts, sending peapod to school has become a discussion topic everyday after we scan through the papers.
Untill friday, we were of the opinion that we were ok with her going to school as long as she is doing well and we aren't infected, and the teachers at her school confirmed they were admitting only kids who are perfectly fine (no cold, cough or soaring temperatures). We didn't see a point in grounding the child, since it didn't seem like it was going to end soon. Also, since both of us were going to work and were meeting all sorts of people, touching all kinds of knobs and surfaces at work.

There was a parent-teacher meeting on Saturday. The principal & teachers discussed their rationale behind keeping their school open and it seemed reasonable. Parents can choose to send or not send their kids. Parents were requested not to send their kids if they even had a mild cough or cold. On Saturday, through a voting mechanism by the parents we voted to keep the school open untill the government sends out a notice. This morning,unusually, peapod was in a very peppy mood. She brushed and bathed and actually wore the clothes I put out for her without a fuss(that is a first). Did not scream her lungs out when I brought out the talcum powder. She did not complain about combing her curls and stood still for a good 2 mins untill her Dad was combing. She was ready 10 mins before her van actually arrived(that is a first again). When the van honked right below our apt, P went around to drop her but there wasn't a single kid in the van. I quizzed the driver from our first floor balcony about the kids he plans to pick up from the next block. He said, of the 6 kids he picks up after the peapod, 5 have already called in to say they weren't coming. We chickened out. We got the peapod out of the van immediately. I called up her school and of the 30 kids only 5 turned up today. I do not mind her staying back home for a week or 2 or even more but I did not want to panic or get paranoid where not necessary. For now, we have decided to keep her off school for 2 more days. We'll see how the days and weeks progress with the swine flu update.

This meeting was also my first interaction with the other parents. The peapod can name about 10 friends from her class. I manage to remember a few names and probe her everyday and we do have very interesting conversations about who did what and kinds. Anapandey was one of the names that I remembered. Turns out, the name is "mangal pandey". I met mangal pandey's mom who was sitting next to me in the meeting. She was the paranoid mom, angry at the teachers for not shutting down the school, angry that her son would fall ill every 2 days when he comes to school, angry at the principal because she asked her to get a medical fitness certificate from her pediatrician since she hadn't sent her son to school for the past 1 week, angry at the van guy because her son who is 3yrs was hit by an another younger child and so on. Generally dis-satisfied with the whole thing. After 5-10 mins I wasn't sure I could say anything to her because ofcourse I probably was one of the kinds that had no complaints. Peapod enjoys school and is a constant source of amusement to us with the varied tales she brings home. And "touchwood" she isn't the one to sneeze & cough every second day. And I love when she goes to school because there is so much to talk and tell at the end of the day. The other kind of parent was the one I had usually read about on MM's or Kiran's blog but I had never encountered in real life. They were the parents the teacher went on to address very harshly, " We do not like being taken lightly. When we call up some parents when their kid is running a 102deg temp, the response we get is, I am in a important meeting, can you please handle it at your end and then they switch off their phones..on.&.on". I was dumb founded to say the least. WHO DOES THAT??? WHAT EARTH-SHATTERING MEETING ARE YOU IN??

Over cautiousness and quick to panic kind-of attitude trouble me big time but I did take that any day over "I don't give a damn" kind of attitude. That gives me nightmares.

Meanwhile I hope the government does something to get the situation under control. And I wish the health minister would stop talking totally because that would then save him the time & energy to go about apologizing & explaining.


Suchismita said...

It is amazing ..people have even found marketing opportunities from the flu. ... got it out of my system by writing about it....I hope things improve soon..

Anonymous said...

Loved the last line :) No doubt some of these guys better off saying nothing!

PTMs are a great opportunity to meet other parents, always enjoyed meeting the kids my kids used to talk about.
Sometimes there are surprises! There was this boy who was forever snatching pencils, pulling hair and kicking, I had expected a big built child, turned out to be a child half my daughter's size :)

Solilo said...

People are too busy to even attend to their own child who runs high temp.? Where does this happen? Why are these parents even working?

I don't even understand why parents send their sick children to school because the kid needs rest and also it will at least stop other kids from getting infected. That is the policy in my daughter's school. Still I see her catching cold from someone.

Some people are unbelievable. They have started black marketing on flu masks. :))

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