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Sars - experience and inspiration


From: Catharine Ho (catharineho_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Apr 24 2003 - 09:36:16 PDT

Hi there to all art ed netters,
things are a bit surreal over here in Hong Kong. Schools
opened yesterday for the public system with middle and high school going
back first. All students must come with a form declaring their temperature
reading that morning and their own masks. All teachers and students must
wear masks. (No one knows how the kids are going to study PE or instrumental
band) It is quite difficult to breath wearing these masks. There are many
types available with some being nearly useless and decorative ( Hello Kitty
is popular) and some only blocking out odors. The one that gives the most
protection is not to be worn by the elderly or people with asthma. The
crisis has actually gotten worse. On average , 30-40 people a day are being
diagnosed with Sars, and anywhere from 3-12 people die everyday. In one
building, 321 people came
down with the virus and 19 from that lot have died already. The World
Health Organization is coming back to Kong Kong to investigate the building
to find out why one population was hit so hard and how the disease was
transmitted.They have not been able to rule out that it may be airborne
which would be a disaster since it is almost impossible to protect yourself
from an airborne virus. As it is, most people have been able to trace how
they contracted the virus, from taking a lift with a coughing person who
later proved to be Sars infected, from sitting two rows ahead on an
airplance from someone who was sick. ( There are often announcements on
television of a flight where people were sick but didn't know it so then all
passengers who were on the flight need to report and get a checkup and
usually a few people on the flight end up sick as well. Air travel has
dropped by 70% and businesses are in big trouble. I will probably be
cancelling my trip home this summer as the risk to the kids and to anyone we
later have contact with will be too great. Darn! wish I came home last
Teaching over the internet is quite the challenge.Posting the
work on the school website was not too difficult but having the students
then emaill their work back,open their mail, do a virus check, download the
attachment and then print takes forever. And for the students that struggle
and constantly need help sometimes it is best to get on the phone to them.
Anyway, there have been some positive things to come out of this. There is a
cleanup Hong Kong Campaigne going on now and everyone seems more aware of
matters of hygiene, and people are going to country parks and spending more
time with thier families and less time in crowded shopping malls. (My 6 year
old son Adrian and I are teaching ourselves how to play chess.) The sun has
finally come out after four weeks of grey weather so moods are a little
better as well. If they open the primary grades for next week I will
probably still keep both of my boys at home but for how long? They just
announced on tv that anyone who is a family member of a suspected Sars case
( before it was just confirmed sars patients) will be in house quarientine
and policed regularly so this is good as it may help stop the spread. The
gov't has ordered that no one is to lose pay if they are ordered to stay
home. Students are having a hard time having to stay home and not go out
with their friends. All socializing outside the family is discouraged.The
kids feel quite trapped. Next week Teachers will
be doing a combination of internet teaching and classrooom teaching as
we anticipate that about 1/3 to 1/2 of parents will continue to keep their
kids at home. As for inspiration -well, I'll be asking my middleschoool kids
to do a 2-D work using any media they like in a 5 inch square ( most people
live in small flats in Hong Kong and the culture here is to go out as
often as you can) to describe their experience with the Sars Crisis, I'll
then take all 280 of the squares and use them as windows in buildings in a
skyline of HOng KOng as a Mural.I anticipate windows turning into jail
cells, frantic eyes peering above masked faces,images of people cleaning
frantically, hopefully some will be hopeful but I thought they need to
express themselves so I won't impose a mood. My grade 8's have just
finished reading Anne Frank and I may ask them to write a comparison of the
confinement and the enemy to help them get a grasp on this. Anyway, hope all
is well and lets pray the good medical community can get a handle on this
virus soon. Take Care from Catharine in Hong kong. ( My apologies to how
long this is but I thought some of you would be interested esp since Sars is
now in the US as well)

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