On Tuesday this week there were 726 schools shut in the USA, leaving just under half a million students at home, in an attempt to stop the swift spread of what now appears to be a mild, but very fast transmitted disease. The headlines talk about the impact on schools, but there's another less well documented impact of such closures. What happens to all the parents of these children who may need to take time off work to look after them? What happens to the businesses whose staff need to take time off so unexpectedly? It's a thought worth considering in any contingency planning. Organisations may need to allow for a certain proportion of the workforce to be off ill and then a further proportion to be off work having to look after ill relatives.
In the case of swine flu the headlines are already changing. Today the education authorities in the USA began to change advice to schools suggesting it isn't essential to close unless they don't have the teaching resource to remain open, but asking for any children showing signs of illness to be kept at home. Whether that approach will be taken by other countries will be interesting to see. Today a London school closed as a precaution.