Spartacus made it through his first week at daycare fine and dandy, but this week, the sniffles started. The temperature dropped over the weekend from 90’s to 70’s, in the fifties at night, and that plus all the new germs put him over the edge. Monday night the sniffles started…he sounded like a winded rhinoceros, even though I couldn’t see much in the way of visible mucus. Still, he woke up at midnight and 3, so it was a long night for momma. Tuesday he was a bit better, and slept from 7:30 that night until 6:15 the next morning when I had to wake him up. He was still sniffly last night and tonight, and now I am starting to have a sore throat that typically precedes a cold for me. Of course, I can’t say anything, because my students would immediately exclaim,
Now, despite the fact that we discuss current events, like, all the time in class, and we’ve had numerous discussions on the Ebola virus, they seem to insist on being panicky about it. We’ve discussed how it is not airborne, and only transmitted through bodily fluids. I’ve told them they have a higher chance of dying from the flu than Ebola (more people die every year from the flu than have died from Ebola…ever). I’ve told them that part of the reason the death toll is so high in West Africa is because those are third-world countries…and the US is not.
It didn’t help that a few towns over, two students were on the same plane as the second nurse from Dallas who got infected, and their schools got shut down for the day to be disinfected. It also doesn’t help that many of my students have the app Plague, Inc. on their phones, where the goal is to mutate a virus to the point where it kills off the entire population of earth. It’s a logic game, but hits a little too close to home right now.
We listen to the NPR five-minute news update every day for bell work,; my freshmen and I had a conversation today that sounded a lot like this:
Me: So what’s going on in the world today…Kevin?
Me: What ABOUT Ebola?
Other kid: 10,000 people died!
Me: No, the quote was that by December, 10,000 new cases would be diagnosed a week if it’s not contained.
Kid: They said 9,000 people have already died.
Me: No, they said 9,000 have been diagnosed…around 4,500 have died.
Kid: Two kids here have it! They got it from the plane!
Me: No, those students were on the plane with the infected nurse, but they are being monitored, and it is highly unlikely they have it.
Kid: But lots of people in the US have it!
Me: No, two nurses who worked directly with an infected person got it, and they are being treated. Remember, you can only get it through contact with bodily fluids. Someone has to, like, sneeze into your mouth or bleed on you.
Kid: But people sneeze near me all the time!
Me: Seriously, no one around her has Ebola. Wash your hands. Take your vitamin C.
Kid: Why vitamin C?
Me: (Sigh) It helps the immune system.
Kid: Well, what if it mutates and becomes airborne?
Me: Unlikely, and even if it did, it wouldn’t happen overnight.
Kid: I have a theory.
Me: (Sigh) Yes?
Kid: I think that ISIS manufactured Ebola into a biological weapon to use against the US.
Me: Well, it’s a good connection, but viruses are extremely hard to weaponize, and ISIS probably doesn’t have the resources to do that…
Other kid: I heard that the US government is actually using the virus on the citizens
Kid: What if a mosquito bites someone with Ebola and then bites someone else? Can they get it then?
Other kid: I think I’ll just stay home and not come to school.
While I have to step back and remember they’re just kids, it’s frustrating when they are so focused on their fear that they ignore the facts. I want to turn it into a teachable moment but am struggling.