Homeschooling--And Not By Choice
Ready to keep your kids home from school--perhaps for months? To forgo family outings to the zoo or playground? And to help them with schoolwork that comes to the house by e-mail?
Don't dismiss those possibilities. It's pretty much a given that sooner or later the world will face another influenza pandemic along the lines of the 1918 outbreak that killed tens of millions of people. Today's most likely culprit is the avian flu, which has killed about two-thirds of the 379 people it's infected so far, according to the World Health Organization. Authorities worldwide are keeping a careful eye on the so-called bird flu, watching for signs that the flu virus has mutated to become easily spread from human to human.
And when that happens, we'd better be ready.
A report in the journal Nature says that because the existing vaccine and drugs alone won't be enough to check the rapid spread of a potentially deadly flu strain, isolating people from one another will be a key way slow its transmission. And because kids are big-time spreaders of disease to one another and to family members, keeping them away from one another may be crucial. The report suggests that closing schools during a flu pandemic could reduce the overall number of cases of illness by up to 17 percent and reduce peak levels by as much as 45 percent.
That will mean keeping kids at home. Which, for many working parents, will mean staying home, too.
Schools throughout the nation are developing, or have developed, plans for dealing with a flu pandemic and are discussing the concept of long-distance teaching.
But what if a parent has to stay home for a prolonged period? And what about the single parents among us? A pandemic would unbalance the juggling many of us already do between family and work
It's easy to pretend we'll never actually have to face the reality of a global pandemic. But authorities--and history--suggest otherwise.
Preparing your family might not be fun. But it's high time we all did it.
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