Back to School Time Already? Or does it just appear that way?

Well, probably not.

Usually, at this time of year, parents are rejoicing and the kids are wondering how the summer passed by so quickly. You've probably loaded up on backpacks, notebooks and a whole new wardrobe for the kids, glad to send them off to learn something more than X Box skills.

While most of the country goes back to school right after Labor Day, down here in Florida the kids went back this week with most returning to classes this past Tuesday. The private schools here actually started about 2 1/2 weeks ago.

My 14 year old daughter was one of those who went back this week. Tuesday was her first day of High School. Great school and great I.B. program, a program she's been in since 6th grade.

Many parents have been there...watching their kids with pride, snickering quietly as you're reminded of your own youth. I can't help but laugh at myself when I recall my first experience with High School. I thought I was so cool and I was completely oblivious to my own awkward adolescence.

Keep in mind, the styles were a lot different back then, for that was the early 80's man! Porky's Revenge was the hot movie back then.

My hair was long (really long!), and I mostly remember what I wore on my first day of 9th grade. Brown Corduroy Levi's Bell Bottom Pants and a matching Brown Corduroy Levi's Jacket...and I think a Journey concert shirt...or maybe it was AC/DC. Even back then, I couldn't believe how cool I was! Especially after I painted the Rush 2112 album cover on the back of my jacket. I was damn near legendary! my own mind.

(If my dad emails me a pic from my high school years, I'll post it here for all to ridicule!)

Wow, times sure were different back then, weren't they? I would imagine my daughter in 25 years will look back at her first week of high school and have similar thoughts and laugh at her own awkward adolescence.

Well, probably not.

She'll have a slightly different recollection of her own generation's version of Porky's Revenge era and her first week of high school.

Today, after just 4 days of school, two of them orientation and the other two a real teaching experience, the kid is in bed, 103 degree fever and a solid case of Swine Flu. (I'm not going to bother with the H1N1 nomenclature in this post).

She won't be seeing her new friends and classmates at school for a few days. If we follow the CDC guidelines, she probably won't be back to school until the week after next.

It saddens me that she has to miss such an important social aspect of her youth. By the time she gets back, it'll be like the new kid who just moved to town half way through the school year. The outsider trying to fit in.

Well, probably not.

I guess we'll find out next week just how many other kids fell ill over the weekend and are missing school next week too. In fact, the kids who don't get sick might end up in the minority.

A local private high school, Tampa Catholic has had a high degree of absences since they started session a couple weeks ago. Over 20% absent this past week. Even the opposing football team that was supposed to play them yesterday refused, citing Swine Flu fears for their players.

But no big deal right? People will get sick, no permanent damage will be done, this whole thing will blow over in no time, right?

Well, probably not.

You may know, I wrote a lengthy (understatement) blog post about 10 days ago on my perspective of Swine Flu and why I thought/think this may be a much bigger issue than people realize.

Flu is wiping out school schedules and it's 90 degrees outside! Just imagine what this bugger will do in cooler 'flu friendly' weather.

As I accurately predicted several days before the government admitted it, the vaccine that's been promised is basically useless. It will be available and effective about two months too late.

Well, probably not.

I'm not so sure the vaccine will be effective at all. Again, as I accurately predicted, this virus is mutating. Want proof?
Here's today's news from the World Health Organization:

"WHO Warns of Severe Form of H1N1 Virus"
Doctors are reporting a severe form of H1N1 that goes straight to the lungs, causing severe illness in otherwise healthy young people and requiring expensive hospital treatment, the World Health Organization said Friday.,2933,544262,00.html?test=latestnews

I have been batting 1000 with all my predictions lately. In fact, I am convinced that reporters have been using my previous blog post as ideas for their ongoing coverage of the pandemic. Their front page stories on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday all echoed stories and perspectives I posted almost a full week earlier in my blog.
I also don't think it was a coincidence that I exposed the vaccine debacle and the fact that the vaccine missed the boat by a full two months, and 4 days later, the CDC, NIH, White House and Homeland Security hastily called a news conference and told everyone they missed the boat on the vaccine and to prepare for the worst. (Remember the movie Deep Impact?)

Well, here is some more breaking news and exposure of incompetence for you.
In my opinion, this may even qualify as willful negligence...and if you have a child about to return to need to fight to change this.

Every scientist, doctor, nurse and medical professional KNOWS that this virus is spread more often and effectively by contaminated surfaces than by sneezing or coughing. A cough or sneeze is only good for about 3 feet of range. But everything the virus lands on (um..let's say a school desk?) will host the virus for countless hours, waiting for its next victim. The next sucker who has that seat in the next class wins the lucky prize.

Sure, washing hands is effective prevention from contaminating yourself and others....but guess what. It's useless to wash your hands before a class, then sit down at a desk that's caked in virus. You're contaminated all over again...and to makes matters worse, the kid now has a false sense of security, so he's likely to touch his eyes, nose, mouth...and infect himself.

The absolute prudent measure is for faculty to sanitize desks and doorknobs between each and every class if they want to be proactive in preventing the spread of this virus. Kind of like a cruise-ship after a norovirus outbreak, but more often....and not everything, but definitely the desk which a kid is going to sit at for an hour.

You're not going to believe this's what the CDC advised the schools to do...and not do! This is an outrage and needs to change immediately!

"CDC does not believe any additional disinfection of environmental surfaces beyond the recommended routine cleaning is required."

That quote comes directly from the Technical Report for State and Local Public Health Officials and School Administrators on CDC Guidance for School (K-12) Responses to Influenza during the 2009-2010 School Year.

It's what every school in the country was guided to do.

Recommended routine cleaning is a sanitizing regimen either in the morning before school, or afterward...basically one time a day....which is completely useless, except to maybe the kids in their 10 minute homeroom class. That's it!
Basically, every single school kid is being condemned to infection!

It is the last sentence in this paragraph:

"The American Academy of Pediatrics provides guidance for school cleaning and sanitizing which is appropriate for influenza. Schools should regularly clean all areas and items that are more likely to have frequent hand contact (for example, keyboards or desks) and also clean these areas immediately when visibly soiled. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas. Some states and localities have laws and regulations mandating specific cleaning products be used in schools. School officials should contact their state health department or department of environmental protection for additional guidance. Schools should ensure that custodial staff and others (such as classroom teachers) who use cleaners or disinfectants read and understand all instruction labels and understand safe and appropriate use. Instructional materials and training should be provided in languages other than English as locally appropriate. CDC does not believe any additional disinfection of environmental surfaces beyond the recommended routine cleaning is required."

The entire guidance report can be found here

This policy needs to change and it needs to change now. Protect your kids!...It's too late for mine.
Contact your schools, your congressperson, whoever you need to.....and tell them this policy is faulted, lacking and dangerous.

Tell them you insist on desks being sanitized between each and every single class. I'm willing to bet this will result in a measurable reduction in flu spread at our schools. It's especially critical in light of the fact that this virus is mutating and getting more dangerous. You can help....spread the word and send this blog link to every parent and school official you know, or at least cut n paste the relevant part.

...and if I see this story posted on, I won't even complain...but a little credit from their thieving reporters would be nice. At least I link to them when I 'borrow' their stories.

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Tags: H1N1, back, flu, outbreaks, sanitize, school, spread, swine, to, virus


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Comment by Brian Glidden on August 31, 2009 at 8:26am
Hi Steve. Long time no talk to. All is well here and my son just started High School last week as well. He already came home with a cold, but so far nothing further. But your blogs have made us aware not to mess around when and if (hopefully) anyone in the family gets any signs of it. Glad to hear your daughter is better. How ironic was that!
Its going to be an interesting year - thats for sure. All the best.
Brian - Intersea Fisheries, Seattle.
Comment by Joe Koran on August 31, 2009 at 7:59am
Hey brother I hope your daughter is on the mend. For all the research and such you have been absorbed in for the past 3 months, the irony is sadness that your daughter would contract the flu.
The conspiracy theorist in me sees the pandemic as an "opportunity" to say "See, we need EVERYONE to have healthcare to prevent things like this". It would not be the first time people were made sacrificial lambs in the name of business (Halliburton).
We preach to our kids every day the reminder of washing their hands. I have provided Clorox anti bac wipes to each of her teachers to have by the key boards of the computers in class so they can be wiped between uses.
You are correct that the CDC and all other agencies have their heads up their southern exposures and have dropped the ball. What aggravates me is the ignorance of the parents who do not lead by example. My children are vigilant because I set the example for them to have proper hygiene. When I see parents and kids in public restrooms using the facilities and leaving without washing their hands or sneezing and coughing without any attempt to cover their faces, I wonder what they are thinking. Of course, they will be the first to scream and blame someone else when their child gets sick.
Keep the focus, Steve. We all need to do our own thing and as a grass roots initiative, we can each fight the battle so collectively we will have an impact on the war.
Comment by Steve Paterson on August 31, 2009 at 1:24am
That's a great idea, especially if we could get a corporate sponsor like Clorox, or another company that makes those types of products to support it.

Thanks Keith.
Glad you liked the poem.

Thanks for the well wishes to both of you.
She's better now...a lot better considering how shaky things appeared on Saturday night and into the wee hours Sunday. I'm not going to go into specifics in a public forum, but let me tell you....this bug is nasty...really really nasty.

The fever stage is absolutely brutal...and heartbreaking as a parent....and scary as hell at the peak. She's still weak and a little warm, but the worst is over.

The only good thing is that she should now have a good immunity base for the 2nd wave...which we're only beginning to see now. That gives me comfort in a selfish way, but all the parents who have yet to go through thoughts will be with them.

Comment by Keith Bernhardt on August 30, 2009 at 8:14am

I hope your daughter has a fast recovery.
I know she'll fit right in at school, when she returns.
Love the poem. Great post !
Take Care
Comment by susan holaday on August 30, 2009 at 6:47am
Hope your daughter will recovery quickly, Steve. It's a great post and a powerful message. It's hard to know what to make of the warnings about this virus - between predictions of massive numbers of deaths and then backtracking by reporters who say, well, there are usually large numbers of deaths from flu. It would help if CDC could come out with more helpful advice and recommend that schools do those things - sanitizing desks/keyboards not just once a day but every period. How about a campaign to send kids to school with spray sanitizers? If the schools won't protect them, parents can try, I guess.
Comment by Steve Paterson on August 29, 2009 at 7:40pm
It's been over 20 years since I've written a poem. My daughter is quite the little poet herself, so in honor of her, I wrote this.

Porky's Revenge

How does one get from hot to cold
How does one grow from young to old

Why do young die when life has just started
Why do some live a life that's half-hearted

What does one do with a gift that was given
What to expect from a passion that's driven

Where does one hide from a world that is ending
From where does one watch certain doom that is pending

Who would allow such a thing to take place
Who could prevent an end to this race

When does an atheist learn how to pray
When to decide whether to flee or to stay

Now that we see our ruthless demise
Now that we're blinded, our useless eyes

Vision and sight are different for sure
Just ask the fish on the hook 'bout the lure

Screaming and shouting and ringing the bell
Upon deaf ears the warnings had fell

Heads in the sand, false sense of well being
The powers that be, clearly not seeing

The masses, the people, the sheeple do follow
The words of the wise, the words that ring hollow

Just some old flu, no harm to be done
The Pig and the Bird and H1 and N1

Yet seasonal flu no longer exists
Just take the shot, the doctor insists

Only a few will die or get sick
The choice is yours, just take your pick

This vaccine we make is safe, said the voice
The nurse wouldn't take it but you have no choice

We tested it out on the farm in the lab
Roll up your sleeve, prepare for the jab

Now run along child and hope for the best
You may still get sick, this was just a test

Billions of dollars and drugs after drugs
Endorsed by the government and pharmaceutical thugs

History tells us time and again
Write events down with the almighty pen

In the future this story will likely be read
By something or someone with an oddly shaped head

The anthropologists will learn what they can
and try to prevent it from happening again

This warning is valid, this warning is stern
Impossible to teach what we've already learned

Beginning and end are at the same place
It's where we've arrived, our own little space

This story being told, it's not the first time
Now roll up your sleeve and stop your crying

The sounds that you hear are the birds and pigs laughing
The holes are being dug while graveyards increase staffing

Who will be left to bury the last
When will we learn mistakes from the past

Let's thanks our friends in positions of power
For guiding us back into mankind's darkest hour

While they hunker down and pretend it's okay
The rest will be lucky to make it through the day




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