Our Spring Break…

Apr 4, 2012

…and yeah, the first grade petri dish strikes again. Little Bit brought home yet another cold. (At least it has been almost 6 weeks since the last time we were all sick. That’s our personal elementary school record!) I remember when our medicine cabinet had BandAids, Neosporin, a few Benadryl tablets and a bottle of rarely-used children’s Tylenol. Now, it looks something like the picture above. In fact, all that stuff doesn’t actually fit in our medicine cabinet.

Hey South Pasadena Unified School District:
How about better health policy for our schools? Mandatory hand washing before all snacks and lunch would be a good start. We could even copy some of the schools in the rest of the country who have parent volunteers wipe down the classrooms — including the supplies shared by the children — on a weekly basis. Some enterprising teachers even do it every day! You know, like they have to do in day care centers or in those playscapes at the mall? (Volunteer just once in the classroom, and you’ll marvel at how much mucus is spewed around on any given day by sneezing, coughing kids.)

How about a district-wide requirement that children eat lunch inside an auditorium or classroom during bad winter weather instead of outside, in 40 degrees and rain, sitting on metal benches, without jackets? I know SoCal has a nice climate on most days and those outdoor covered patios instead of lunchrooms are great … but, seriously? Sending the kids to sit and eat in winter storms? I picked up Little Bit at school one chilly, drizzling day a few months ago and her teeth were literally chattering.

“I haven’t been able to get warm since lunch,” she said.
It took me a moment to process the fact that the kids didn’t automatically eat inside during winter months. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. A few weeks earlier, Little Bit had been to the ER with the flu. She had over 104 degree fever for 5 days and missed a total of 8 school days. One of her classmates had been out at the same time with complications from pneumonia.
And they were now eating lunch outside in a winter storm?!
The principal verified that there was no district standard for weather conditions, that each teacher made the call on whether his or her classroom should stay out of the wind and rain at lunch time.

It’s common sense, but I have access to several actual scientific studies backing up the fact that student absences are drastically reduced when hand washing and other basic health plans are implemented. (Go ahead, check out an overview here.) I’m sure any of our Cal Tech bound 4th graders can tell you the studies and their obvious results aren’t exactly rocket science.

Yeah, I know, kids get sick. I get it. But cars crash too, which is why we take precautions to minimize accidents like checking tire pressure and wearing seat belts.
I would continue this rant but it makes my congested head hurt. For those who might shrug and tell me, “Well, we don’t get sick very much in our family,” I would say good for you. I marvel at your superior immunity. Actually, I probably wouldn’t even hear you because I have lost hearing on one side from the February cold that turned into an ear infection. Like another South Pas mom told me in the kids’ vitamin section of Whole Foods the other day, “We’re so sick all the time at this rate our son can just display the family for his Science Fair project.”
How long until summer, again?

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