Every so often, the school nurse will show up at my door. She's always very polite and especially discreet. I walk across my classroom with the expressed intent of getting some mildly unpleasant news about the health of one of my students. The little things- headaches, stomach aches, sore ankles, sore throats, skinned knees, and hangnails - those are usually taken care of with a polite note or a three word entry on our pistachio green student medical forms. Nope. If she has come all the way down to my room, then it won't be about a band-aid or an ice pack.
For the past few years I have grown accustomed to getting one of these visits regarding lice outbreak. In an elementary school, there's always way too much touching and sharing of things like coats and hats, so once it's begun, it's almost impossible to stop. Unless every child who has come in contact with those already afflicted is checked and inspected and the offending heads are scrubbed or shorn.
Today it wasn't lice. It was chicken pox. One of my students had come down with it over the weekend, and there was a good deal of concern that before she had left for the three day holiday that she might have shared it with some or all of us. We all got official notice on school letterhead explaining our situation. Even though I had chicken pox decades ago, I had the immediate need to scratch my forearm. And my shin. And the back of my head. It was essentially the same reaction I invariably have to the lice announcement, only this time I was even less likely to be infected.
Then I had a moment to consider my options. Quarantine would keep me at home for at least a week. Then again, the thought of five days of daytime TV would probably keep me inoculated from any of the more virulent strains of childhood. Thanksgiving is coming. Soon.