Thursday, October 29, 2009

JJNN: Closed schools

I have been spending most of my time of late kicking blogger. For some reason it decides to mess up every time I try to post something. This time I hope that it works.

Something else that I have been doing lately is trying to dodge sick kids. I guess it is part of the dangers of working at elementary and jr. high schools. The kids still (for the most part) love coming to school, no matter how they feel. They bring their germs and viruses and spread them to their classmates. Those go down the chain and end up spreading to the teachers and though educational offices and around families and back to the kids. A terrible cycle really, but that is nature at its most efficient and that deserves a little respect (if not fear).

So, in the end, one kid gets sick and that spreads to a lot of people in the school and that leads to the bigger spread of the sickness around the area. In order to battle the spread of these diseases (the major example lately being the H1N1 virus that produces the newest version of the flu) the Japanese close down classes, or sometimes whole schools, when a certain amount of the students get sick. Is this a new thing? Is this just a Japanese thing? I don't ever remember being sent home from school (and told not to come back to school for a week) because my classmates are sick. Does this happen in other countries?

I can't speak for all of Japan, but I can tell you about the rules for closing down a class or a school in the city in which I teach. 10% is the cut off. if 10% of the students in a certain class get sick than the class is shut down for the week. The same goes for grades. If 10% of the 3rd graders get sick, they all must stay away from school for the week. And, lastly, the same goes for the entire school. If 10% of the whole school gets sick no one goes to the school for the week. Also, the whole school is probably sprayed down with disinfectants and cleaned.

So many school are being closed lately that it is starting to make the news. You can see the original article here. In the week from the 18th to the 24th of this month 13,964 schools were effected by either school, grade or class closings. 784 schools were closes completely while 3,104 schools had grade closings and 10,076 had class closings. 9 prefectures even have more than 500 schools being effected by closings.

That is a whole lot of schools being effected. How does this compare to closings in the past? Well, It is 1.6 times the closings of the week before. On top of that, the peak of the normal winter influenza season last year resulted in 4105 schools being effected by closings. That is just 1/3 of what we are experiencing now. It looks like a run away infection event. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare even made a comment saying that it looks like the virus is really spreading fast in urban environments.

All in all I think that The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has a good point. Japan has a lot of people crammed into a small space. There is no better environment in which to spread diseases. It is a good idea to close schools and they should really think about closing businesses and everything that is unnecessary if (when) the spread of the virus heightens. If you can stop the virus's spread it will go a long way to help control the virus.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is ウイルス(ういるす). It is pronounced uirusu and means virus. I sure hope that none of the kids that I teach today have any influenza viruses.

See you next time at JJNN

1 comment:

  1. The same thing is happening to America, but to a lesser degree. Some schools are closing if a lot of kids are diagnosed with H1N1 but they only close for a day or two and not a whole week. They close long enough for a cleaning crew to come in and disinfect the school and then they reopen. I had to develop a flu plan for our school but we are a private school and we don't get paid if we don't have school so we won't be closing unless we have to.