I’ve been paying close attention to the Swine Flu school closings in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, especially since I live in Plano TX myself. Swine Flu (H1N1) concerns has lead Fort Worth ISD to close all schools in the district, with Lewisville ISD and Ponder ISD following suit.
The Swine Flu debate rages on, in regards to whether or not school districts and officials are overreacting to the Swine Flu/H1N1 outbreak, especially since Dallas ISD has yet to close all schools at least temporarily, and hearing the word “pandemic” from health officials is quite unsettling for everyone.
Tawnell Hobbs, a Dallas ISD reporter, recently asked if school districts are overreacting to the “swine flu thing” on her blog:
“We’re trying to understand why school districts have reacted differently to this swine flu thing. Here’s what some districts are doing:
*Dallas is closing Daniel Webster Elementary after one student tested positive for the virus.
*Fort Worth ISD decided to close all of its campuses after one student tested positive for swine flu. Three students in the district also are listed as “probable” for having the virus.
*Cleburne ISD decided to close all of its campuses because four students could possibly have the virus.
*Lewisville ISD shut down a campus because three students possibly have it.”
The discussion in the comments section on Tawnell’s post from readers pretty much sums up what I’ve thought about the school closings in Fort Worth, Ponder, Lewisville as well as other cities and suburbs.
Ever heard the phrase, “damned if you do and damned if you don’t”? Schools that make the decision to close due to concerns about Swine Flu are said to be overreacting and in sheer panic mode, and schools in districts like Dallas that haven’t (yet) decided to close cause people to ask, “Why hasn’t Dallas ISD closed because of Swine Flu”? Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
Canyon Creek Elementary in Richardson TX closed its doors due to a confirmed case of Swine Flu, and the fact that Canyon Creek Elem. is just a stones throw from our office, the news really hits home for us because my boss’ niece and nephew attend Canyon Creek.
Some highly popular public events, like the annual Mayfest, have been canceled while other events have not, leaving some to feel that there are mixed messages about swine flu being given to the general public living in North Texas: “There are still a lot of unknowns with this illness, which is why most communities are using extreme caution”.
Dallas County Health and Human Services Directory Zachary Thompson defended his agency’s aggressive approach in dealing with the swine flu crisis. “This is not overkill; this is serious,” he said. “If we had a similar scenario that you have in Mexico, it would definitely not appear to be overkill.” County medical director and health authority Dr. John Carlo said it continues to be a very “fluid situation.”
Hearing news reports and seeing photos of parents in Fort Worth attempting to drop off their children at school after numerous announcements were made and continue to be reported on radio, television and the internet that all schools in Fort Worth were closed due to Swine Flu, seemed rather odd to me. Hello??? Have you not turned on your television news or listened to the radio and heard the news/updates about swine flu at all? Have you even heard about Swine Flu/H1N1 and/or read information about how to protect yourself and loved ones from getting the flu?
H1N1 Swine Flu- How to Protect Yourself
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their website with information for the general public, including an explanation of What is H1N1 (Swine Flu):
H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in April 2009 in the United States. Other countries, including Mexico and Canada, have reported people sick with this new virus. This virus is spreading from person-to-person, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread.
Is this new H1N1 virus contagious? CDC has determined that this new H1N1 virus is contagious and is spreading from human to human. However, at this time, it is not known how easily the virus spreads between people.
What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people? The symptoms of this new influenza A H1N1 virus in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. A significant number of people who have been infected with this virus also have reported diarrhea and vomiting. Also, like seasonal flu, severe illnesses and death has occurred as a result of illness associated with this virus.
What can I do to protect myself from getting sick? There is no vaccine available right now to protect against this new H1N1 virus. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
- Stay home if you are sick for 7 days after your symptoms begin or until you have been symptom-free for 24 hours, whichever is longer. This is to keep from infecting others and spreading the virus further.
- Follow public health advice regarding school closures, avoiding crowds and other social distancing measures.
- Be prepared in case you get sick and need to stay home for a week or so; a supply of over-the-counter medicines, alcohol-based hand rubs, tissues and other related items might could be useful and help avoid the need to make trips out in public while you are sick and contagious.
There is a right way and wrong way to wash your hands. Parents, be sure you are taking the necessary precautions to educate and protect yourselves and your children from becoming sick, by teaching your children how to wash your hands correctly for a full 20 seconds with soap and water. Stay updated on the list of school closings in North Texas from regular updates on WFAA.com’s school closings page.
What do you think? Do you think school districts are doing enough to prevent the spread of H1N1 (swine flu) throughout their schools, or do you think the school closings are just overkill?