“The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic”

This was the statement issued by Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization.

It is a sobering statement. Many of us have read about past pandemics, such as the

Black Death or the Bubonic Plagues in the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. However, I would think none of us expected to witness the evolution of a modern-day plague. The WHO points out that in the early stages of this pandemic, a moderate severity of the virus is foreseen. However, they are not closed to the idea that this may change as days go by. Nonetheless one thing I feel is reassuring is that despite all these facts, border closure and travel restrictions are not being enforced.

In the past 10 days I have been forced to stay home (at least for the most part) because of an A(H1N1) case in the institution I teach in. I have monitored the number of cases over the days and it is alarming to see the rise in cases. A lot of other schools have also fallen victim to the reach of this disease. When the DLSU quarantine began, I posted a question in one of my blogs asking if postponing the start of classes necessary. I suppose it’s not just a manner of postponing classes, because we can’t let this pandemic stop our lives completely. I beleive it is important to go back to the basics: proper hygene and good health practices.

For my first day of preschool classes I plan to teach 3 H’s (even if they may sound cliché):

1. Health is Wealth. This is such an old saying but I want my juniors class to begin to embrace this as fact. This will include my new rules for snack time: no “junk” food. I put junk in parenthesis because we often think junk is only limited to chips and soda. However, I feel that parents should avoid giving them sugar-filled cookies and the like on a daily basis. For this year, I will try to push for healthy snacks only: crackers, cereal,  and fruits. I would also suggest less tetra fruit drinks (as these are not REAL fruit anyway), but to alternate this with water, milk and less sugary drinks.

2.  Happy Hands are Clean Hands. Kids don’t often like washing their hands, even though they love playing with water! I want to try to make handwashing a real, honest-to-goodness habit in them. I also have put a timer beside the sink so this can guide the kids about how long they should “rub and scrub” their hands with soap and under the running water.

3. Hands Up!. One thing a lot of kids have to be reminded of is to put their hands up to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. I think even us adults on occasion need to be reminded! To make it more memorable for my kids, I’ll say “hands up!” instead of just simply “cover your mouth” because kids simply forget that!

These are my 3 H’s against A(H1N1) for my juniors class. Do you have any other suggestions that can help parents and teachers attempt to safeguard children against this pandemic? Feel free to post them here! Oh…and they don’t have to start with H!

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