By Joe Rector

I arrived at one high school in Knox County to substitute not long ago. When I arrived, the lady in charge told me that I would fill in for a different teacher for each afternoon class. It seems as though teachers are dropping like flies; 25 were out on this day. According to the schools, teachers and subs are in short supply, and students aren’t doing so well either. The flu season is kicking butts and taking names.

I’m not so sure why folks don’t take the flu shot. No, it doesn’t hurt that long. I’ve heard the arguments that the inoculation does not necessarily prevent contracting the bug and only is good for certain strains. I’m fine with that since taking the shot gives a 1-in-3 chance for protection. That’s better than people who refuse to take the shot and wind up with 0-in-3 chance against it.

Sometimes students don’t want to miss school and fall behind. However, many parents send their children to school even though they exhibit classic signs of illness. The belief that if a child isn’t throwing up or burning up he is good to go works for these guardians, and they have little concern for the fact that their offspring are infecting an entire classroom room like Typhoid Mary. Neither can they afford to miss a day’s work to stay home with a sick child. They also fear becoming sick themselves and missing multiple days at the office.

We old teachers and substitutes should fare better than most people. Over the years, we’ve been exposed to most every virus that has ever reared its ugly head. Sitting in a room full of sick young’uns gave us the immunity that we needed to stay a bit healthier than most folks did. Today’s teachers might not have that advantage. During their childhood years, they lived with hand sanitizer, and too many of them spent too little time outside. We old folks washed our paws with a bar of soap that the entire family used. Our parents had to drag us inside at night, and we entered the house wet with sweat and covered with grass stain and mud.

Now, only a few cases of flu sometime spread like a wildfire through the student body and faculty. This year’s version seems to be especially tough on young ones and Baby Boomers. If the illness sticks around until April, as some are predicting, it’s a sure bet that the schools will close their doors before long. No, not every child will be ill. However, when too many teachers and substitutes are stricken with the flu, no one is available to teach a class.

Before long, spring will arrive and the flu season will be over. That’s something toward which we can all look with thankfulness. Up to this time, I don’t recall ever having the flu. Yes, some colds and coughs have hit me from time to time, but nothing as bad as what people are experiencing now has come my way.  I’m hoping right now that by talking about my better-than-average immunity to stuff that I haven’t jinxed myself. I’d hate to have the flu knock me off my feet. Hold on because relief and warm weather are coming.