Via Arab News: Schools urged to cancel field trips. Excerpt:
Schools should cancel field trips because of the danger that students might become infected with the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus, a doctor said here recently.
“I would not suggest that schools take students out on field trips now in light of the coronavirus outbreak because it is not safe at all,” said M.S. Karimuddin, head of the pediatrics department at New Jeddah Clinic.
“The school atmosphere is different. If a child is not well, he will not be allowed to go to school so that the infection does not spread. But anywhere in the field, including malls and crowded places, there is no control and must be strictly avoided.” Karimuddin said that only one child has been affected by MERS so far.
He said schools should inform parents to have their children checked out if they are coughing in an unusual manner or even having a casual cough.
“This is because the initial symptoms are the same as the common cold, so you never know if you have the spreading coronavirus or just the common cold. Prevention is always better than cure.”
He endorsed remarks made last week by Sami Badawood, director of Jeddah's health department, that schoolchildren should keep safe by maintaining proper hygiene and keeping away from crowded areas.
He said citizens and residents should also believe Badawood when he says that there are no cases of MERS infections at Jeddah schools. “It is always better to pay attention to the officials,” said Karimuddin. “They are responsible and working hard to prevent the virus from spreading. It is our duty to believe the authorities of the country we are living in.”
“If the authorities say there is no harm in sending children to school, we must believe them because they probably have the situation under control, and especially because the coronavirus has been around for about two years now,” he said.
“On the other hand, if parents wish to keep their children away from school due to their fears over MERS, schools should not be hard on them by being strict about applying absenteeism rules, because I believe parents have the right to protect their children,” said Karimuddin.
Unless the kids can be kept in lockdown at home, school may be a better option. During the 2003 SARS outbreak, Singapore closed its schools; rejoicing in the unexpected break, the kids swarmed in their thousands into the malls, defeating the whole purpose of the closure.