Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Are Home Schoolers Protected from Illness?

There is a lot of discussion and news coverage happening right now on the entervirus D68.  Unfortunately, flu season is also coming up rapidly. It is this time of year I often people make the assumption that home schoolers are safe and protected from illness.  People often say "I'm just gonna home school!" when they are concerned about the current super virus. As a home school mom I certainly wish we had the immunity that so many believe that we can achieve.

Now, to be fair, I do think that we get sick less often as home schoolers than we did when we attended public school.  The illnesses we get are not only fewer and father between but also less severe in most cases.  We are definitely exposed to fewer people and fewer germs and that is to our advantage.

That said, home school moms are not spared the worry that comes when these scary illness threaten our communities.  Home school kids don't really spend all of their time at home.  There are weeks when I have to be very intentional about being home to do our routine curriculum because there are so many neat opportunities out in the world to participate in.  Our herd participates in several Taekwondo classes a week, church, Sunday school, AWANA, Science Olympiad meetings and our much loved co-op each week.  Of course many of those events are attended by children who also attend public school.  Other home school friends of ours participate in much larger co-ops, day long enrichment programs or even college classes at our local colleges.  Not to mention the fact that we need to go to the grocer store, big box stores, and all the other big public school places just like everyone else.  Oh, and the daddy works out in public so we have that risk factor too. At the end of the week our exposure to illness may only be marginally less than people out there attending public school.

Along with the warnings about enterovirus D68 and the upcoming flu season in general come a lot of recommended precautions.  I'll let you look up the current recommendations yourself but the biggest ones are hand washing and staying home if your sick.  My worry for us and other home schooelrs is that we not start believing this myth.  I would hate to see home schoolers underestimate their exposure, choose not to take precautions seriously and falsely believe they are protected simply because society says that they must be.

I think many of my friends think I'm overly cautions, so please let me explain why that is.  In our household we have 8 people, soon to be 9, that potentially will come down with any illness that we would contract. Not only are there a whole lot of people to be sick, which means that we'll be out of commission for a long time, but several of my children have elevated risk factors in dealing with anything respiratory.  Then of course there are the parents to think about.  If the mama gets sick caring for the herd gets very complicated, not to mention the added risk of pregnancy right now.  If the daddy gets sick he cannot go to work and our income is negatively impacted.  I hope you'll understand if sometimes I fantasize about locking all our doors, digging a moat and hiding until Spring.

For now, our family will still be out there doing the things we care about but with some extra precautions.  We are all taking vitamins and using essential oils to boost our immune system.  We're drinking a little extra vitamin C because it can't hurt us.  We're getting extra rest, washing our hands and limiting physical contact with people.  We are carrying and using wipes for all public surfaces and hand gel when we can't wash with soap and water. There is a plan in place to leave any event we are at if we see a high population of sick people in attendance.  Of course we will stay home if we develop any symptoms that would make us a risk to others.  We hope all our peers will too.

My hope for this post is to shed some light on a home schooling myth and remind those of you who have taken the time to read this to maybe be a little extra cautious in your own circles.  Take care of yourselves and make prevention important to your household.  Stay healthy friends!

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