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H1N1 fiasco: Parents’ ire should be directed at state

If someone eats at a restaurant and the steak isn’t cooked to the customer’s liking, typically it’s the waiter or waitress who catches the brunt of the complaining despite the fact that the server wasn’t the person who prepared the meat.
Last week, the South Harrison Community School Corp. played the role of waiter, with parents playing the part of customer, and the state health board playing the part of chef.
In response to two reports of students, one each at Corydon Elementary and Heth-Washington Elementary, having the H1N1 virus, the school corporation did exactly what it should have done: notify the parents of fellow students with severe respiratory problems and simply send a letter home with all other schoolchildren to let parents know about H1N1 and how best to keep from getting it.
The only trouble was that no one told the school corporation that the state health department has stopped taking H1N1 specimens from local doctors because they’ve been inundated with requests for testing. Since H1N1 is a strain of Type A influenza, any positive test for Type A now ‘ since most Type A flus are currently dormant ‘ local physicians are told to tell their patients they are presumed to be H1N1 positive.
So, in this case, the waiter put in an order for well-done, and the customer received rare. And the customer wasn’t happy in the least.
Dr. Neyland Clark, superintendent for South Harrison schools, was inundated with phone calls and e-mails from irate parents wanting to know why schools weren’t being closed. One parent even called to ask how she could personally shut down Corydon Intermediate School although there were no known students with H1N1 at the school.
Feedback about the situation on this newspaper’s Web site ran the gamut, from those who took a cautious, wait-and-see approach to some who wanted to know ‘how many dead children’ would the corporation consider an acceptable loss.
While the school corporation did nothing wrong, because it’s the face of the situation, it’s catching the heat. School officials did the right thing based on the information it had. If nothing had been sent to parents, people would complain; if Clark closed the schools for a week and demanded every square inch of school property be sanitized, parents would complain about the make-up days later. And never mind the fact the same students could just as easily catch the virus outside the hallways.
The bottom line in all of this is, if anything, the ire should be directed at the chef ‘ the state ‘ which should have been prepared to do more testing. The state should have known a second and more widespread H1N1 outbreak was possible and should have been at the ready.
If there’s anything good that came out of the situation, county school superintendents and nurses met with health officials earlier this week to address how to best handle the state’s lack of preparation and blanket H1N1 diagnosis of Type A flu-infected students.
There’s nothing wrong with parents being interested in their child’s well-being. But don’t be irked at the person who brought you the steak. Be upset with the person who cooked up the mess.