This past week I was reminded just how quickly things can change. On Wednesday, I went to school as usual, and even attended a staff meeting after school. The very next day, school was closed.
Why, you might ask? There have been a high number of flu cases recently (though in HK we still prefer to use the more formal -- and scarier -- "influenza"), and at least two children have actually died from it. Though of course I feel sad for those families, I was still a little surprised by the Health Department's decision to close all elementary schools and kindergartens. It seems like quite an excessive response, but then, considering HK's recent run-ins with bird flu and SARS, I guess it's an understandable step to take.
On Thursday, the Education Bureau issued this statement:
"In order to prevent the spread of influenza in school campus, the Education Bureau announced that all kindergartens, kindergartens cum child care centres, primary schools and special schools will begin the Easter holiday starting from March 13 up to 28. During the non-prearranged period of school holiday, these school campus will remain open. Students could go to school as usual, if necessary."
So we teachers will continue to go to school, and students whose parents have no other options can send their kids to school. It's an interesting time. Classroom teachers are arranging work for students electronically, so as not to fall too far behind. This will hopefully prevent us from having to make up the lost days over the summer or on weekends.
A very cool thing about these arrangements is that we teachers, being less busy than usual, have had more opportunities to enjoy each other's company. For once, there's actually time to go out to lunch, and schedule fun PE "workshops." On Friday about 15 of us played a game of dodgeball -- I love dodgeball! And how many years has it been since I last played?! It was such a great stress-reliever, and absolutely hilarious to see respected colleagues diving out of the path of foam balls. Even after just two days, I feel like we've all grown a lot closer, and I look forward to more quality time together (with some work in there too, of course!). And hopefully kids will all stay healthy and have positive learning experiences outside of school.
Good Friday is the start of our Easter holiday, and also the day on which my mom and I will be leaving for Delhi. But more on that later...