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First Day of School = Cancelled!

Swine flu reared its ugly head in India, as the city government of Mumbai closes all schools for seven days.

We got back in town late last week after a super summer vacation: we’ll certainly write more about it here. How surprised were we to hit the airport and find all sorts of medical checks established at the border! We had to fill in forms, have our temperature taken by a ‘thermal scanner,’ and have a face-to-face meeting with a doctor (or at least some guy wearing a white lab coat) before being allowed to enter the country. But even this craziness was nothing compared to the panic that we’ve felt over the past few days.

As one of our coworkers noted, “I wish people had a grasp of basic statistics.” In a city of 25 million people, there have been 2 confirmed deaths from swine flu! 5 times as many people die every day falling off trains here! In all of India, there have been 18 fatalities – how many are there from starvation, polluted water, car wrecks, etc I wonder? In other words, the realistic threat of swine flu is really, really low.

But, as tends to be the case, hysteria often overrides reality, and so all Mumbai schools have to close. Which brings us to the current curious situation. Instead of meeting friends and jumping back into the swing of a school year, our students will be spending Monday through Wednesday of next week staring at computer screens. All teachers are preparing on-line lessons, so that the missed days are not really ‘missed’ in terms of learning lessons.

Of course, some classes adapt easier to this new format than others. My math lessons, for example, are probably easier to do electronically than Susan’s first grade “welcome to school” activities. Our drama teacher was lamenting his lot in life, but at the same time not unhappy at all that he was not the PE instructor who has to help kids learn to swim via the internet!

Alea and Breck have adapted to the change in plans with amazing resilience. They are looking forward to seeing their friends, of course, but understand that there is not much we can do (since they experienced the medical check at the airport and have seen the new “thermal scanner” in place at school). They get to take their on-line courses at the school itself (lucky them!) starting Monday: much faster internet, the fact that they get to hang out with other kids and have care provided, and their teachers get to keep an eye on how effective those lessons are! We’ll keep you posted as to how things go…

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One Comment

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    1. Bill Bartmann on September 20th, 2009 at 9:46 am

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  1. […] school had an interesting start to the school year, in that the H1N1 pandemic prompted city officials to close down all schools. As a ‘technology-rich’ institution, we decided to proceed with a program of providing […]

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