The Supertanker’s H1N1 Pandemic Response June 11, 2009Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
Tags: dimdim, H1N1, influenza, leprocy, MOE directive, pandemic, pandemic planning, quarantine, remote teaching, swine flu
This week has been full of NZEI e-mails, Ministry missives full of information and strategies that fall short of directives, all to do with the potential threat of the H1N1 virus. What has really got teachers on the Supertanker riled though is the the potential threat to their sick leave entitlement should they be ‘stood down’ for quarantine reasons in the near future.
It is clear from the dispatches from the Ministry front line that ducks are being lined up, should the expected pandemic arrive and the rhetoric from official sources is not if, but when. We have all heard of this before with SARS but nothing eventuated. However, somehow this particular variant has whipped up more of a media frenzy than before. The cynic in me thinks the H1N1 ‘crisis’ is a global smoke screen designed to take our attention away from the true crisis, the financial free market morass created by years of institutional greed and global corporate contempt . This is somewhat backed up by the statistics. In the US, in an average year, 41 000 people die from the normal influenza virus, (go back and read that figure again). To date the US has had 50 deaths from the H1N1 variant, not exactly cause for concern based on the previous figure, but don’t get me started on conspiracy theories!
So what has this to do with the Supertanker?
Today the lepers bell tolled in our vicinity, the dementors’ cold cloak of H1N1 has touched our wider community. We are now a statistic on the global H1N1 map, which resembles my clustr map to the right. The local day care centre reported its first case of suspected H1N1. As a result several children were sent home, quarantined. The whole unit may have been closed, but I am not sure. (12 students with the virus in Hong Kong has caused the territory to close all of its primary schools for 14 days.) One of the children at the unit is a child of one of the staff on the Supertanker and as a precaution both the staff member and the child have had to be checked for the symptoms, no doubt swabbed, prodded and made to go arrgh by a community nurse. They are now at home, whether the staff member has been stood down, quarantined or will be back tomorrow has yet to be seen. And this brings me back to the loss of sick pay chuntering that has been raging this week in the staffroom. About 8 of the staff on the Supertanker will be going overseas in the school holidays, mostly to Australia, the current hot spot for H1N1. As it stands if we are asked to voluntarily quarantine ourselves, if we show flu like symptoms, we will have our sick pay entitlement docked the 7 day stand down period.
The solution? Should we be stood down for quarantine reasons, we can still teach remotely. As those of you who read this blog regularly will know I have been teaching the students of Woodford Junior School in the UK on a regular basis for over two years. Therefore, next week I will be running a whole staff meeting training the staff how to use Dimdim, how to run lessons using the whiteboard, share documents and how to communicate with the whole group or work privately 1:1 with attendees. I will also show how to pass the ‘chair’ to other users and how to manage the audio and video functions. Therefore, should we be stood down, we will not be losing our sick pay entitlement as we can still teach our classes, even if they have been quarantined too! The school might be empty, but the lessons will continue.