We live just two miles away from a high school that has been closed for one week due to Swine Flu. Two schools elementary age children have become infected in the last day — both living in the same city as my son’s preschool. More schools in California are considering closing as a precaution. And it leaves me wondering… Where are all these kids gonna go during the day?
If the point of the school closure is to isolate children in hopes of keeping the outbreak to a minimum, you can’t simply just put your kid in an alternate childcare. Sure they may seem fine today. But with a waiting period of 7 days, a normal kid today can be a sick kid next Tuesday.
I feel like I’m one of the lucky ones. If my son’s school were to close for a period of time, I can work from home 100%, have a supportive boss, and lots of family near-by that would be able to step in if needed.
If (knocking on wood) my son were one of the very few in my county to actually get sick, I know that I have sick pay that I can use for myself or for the care of my sick child to make sure that we were able to ride it out. But not everyone is as lucky as me.
The swine flu threat has renewed the argument over whether the government should mandate paid sick-time. Ted Kennedy is expected to re-introduce in Congress the Healthy Families Act which would allow workers to earn an hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Advocates say paid sick time is needed to avoid spreading contagion; they argue productivity falls when people go to work sick. Opponents say it’s too costly and too many people will abuse the system.
All I know is that when you don’t offer sick pay, people come to work sick. With the swine flu threatening to close schools all over the country, we can’t expect people to be able to take days or weeks off to care for a healthy child that may never get sick.
What do you think? Are you prepared if, tomorrow, your school closes? Do you think we should have mandated sick pay?