Korea is, as I have mentioned previously, unhealthily obsessed with Swine Flu.
Apparently a Canadian teacher in Seoul was recently fired when he caught Swine Flu. He didn’t go into school when he started feeling ill. He went to the hospital to be tested. When he tested positive, he stayed home until he was completely better and no longer contagious. Parental paranoia being what it is in Korea, however, meant that the matter didn’t end there, as it should have done. Apparently unable to understand the phrase “no longer contagious”, the parents didn’t want the poor guy near their kids any more. Once a Swine Flu victim, always a Swine Flu threat, it would seem. The school told him not to come back yet, even though he was perfectly healthy – and when he (quite rightly) asked to be paid for this forced absence, they fired him!
This is worrying.
All across the country, more schools are closing every day as children and teachers fall ill with alleged “Swine Flu”. Today, it finally hit our school. Six children from one class were absent, five from another, four from another. Clare fell ill during the day and went home sick. The director is coughing and sneezing and wearing a mask. Every day for the past week, every child has had his or her temperature taken to check for fever as they enter the school (after zapping their hands under the high-tech UV hand cleanser thingy, of course). The Korean teachers and staff look harrassed and highly-strung. It is a wee bit chaotic.
Trying to provide a presence of calm in the midst of mass hysteria, I collected my first class from their homeroom and took them down to the gym, away from their homeroom teacher who was refusing to emerge from behind the safety of a large, folded bathtowel pressed over her (masked) mouth and nose. Today, I began, getting them seated around me on the floor, we’re going to…
And with that, the principal marched in with another class. They were followed by every single class in the school. Suddenly, I was surrounded by far more children than I’d expected to be when I started my class. Bemused, I stuck my head out into the corridor. What on earth is going on? I asked Alex, who looked just as confused as me, a Korean teacher having swept his class out from under his nose and brought them down to the gym. We found Jennifer, the director, and demanded an explantion.
Whole school is being disinfected, she informed us. Oh, for the love of patience and sanity.
And so the men in masks and white coats came in with spray tanks and doused the entire place. It was kind of spooky. Oh, and did I mention ridiculous? I mean, come on! If the sick people in the school really are suffering from Swine Flu, won’t they have been just as likely to pass it on by sneezing all over each other? And isn’t it likely that even if all the Swine Flu-infected people have been sent home, they’ve already passed it on to several others, who just aren’t showing symptoms yet, and who will happily go around contaminating everything again within seconds of it being disinfected?
We’re meant to be taking the children trick-or-treating on Friday, but now it might not be happening because the parents are making noises about the danger of letting us take the kids outside into that nasty, Swine Flu-infected world. Permit me a: WTF?!!! Surely the open air would be much safer than a classroom crowded with snottery infants and potentially lethal foreign teachers?
I don’t get it.
I. Do. Not. Get. It.