School responses to swine flu


How many times this year have you sent parents 'flu notices? graph of japanese statisticsRecently goo Research conducted a survey into private junior and senior high school information systems for influenza outbreaks, quite a relevant survey with currently around 25% of all schools reporting class or whole school closures due to new-type ‘flu, as it’s known as in these parts.


Between the 1st and 18th of October 2009 1,396 private middle and high schools from all over the country were contacted by post, with 220 schools responding, a pretty poor 15.8% response rate. The schools responding were 5.5% middle schools, 59.5% high schools, and 35.5% others, chiefly joint middle and high schools. The responding people were 7.3% school principals, 36.1% head teacher or vice-principals, 8.7% teachers, 1.4% school office staff, 44.3% health-related staff, and 2.3% others.

Also this week vaccination against swine flu has started in Japan, but despite having a national health service where most people pay just 30% of their bills, the vaccine is going to be paid for, at about 4,000 yen a shot, I think. Non-priority cases such as myself are at the end of the queue, so it will be next spring at least before I might be due one, but by that time I think enough people will have caught it (including myself?) making the jab unnecessary. If people start dropping dead in their hundreds this winter I’ll adjust my attitude, but for now I’m not interested.


Research results

Q1: Between April and September of 2009 has your school had any closures due to influenza? (Sample size=219, multiple answer)

Yes, one class closed 47.5%
Yes, whole school closed 21.9%
Yes, one year closed 16.4%
None of the above 37.9%

Q2: In this year up to September of 2009 how many times have you sent notices to parents and guardians regarding influenza? (Sample size=219)

Once 23.7%
Two to four times 59.8%
Five or more times 11.4%
Zero times 5.0%

Q3: What worries have you had regarding influenza epidemics this year? (Sample size=213, multiple answer)

Worries about students developing serious diseases 68.1%
Effort and responsibility to keep parents and guardians informed about influenza 55.9%
Reduction in the students’ concentration on schoolwork 37.6%
Other 16.4%

Q4: If the school has to close due to an influenza epidemic, how do you urgently inform families about that? (Sample size=214, multiple answer)

Message on school web site 58.4%
Telephone relay 52.3%
Each class teacher phones every family in his/her class 41.1%
Use mailing list to inform everyone at once 28.0%
By postcard, letter 17.8%
Teachers arbitrarily pass messages to everyone around them 9.8%
Other 7.5%
Don’t have any fixed methods for urgent information on school closure 3.3%

Q5: What disadvantages are there regarding using the school web site to inform parents? (Sample size=206, multiple answer)

Message won’t get to parents who don’t use the internet 92.7%
When a new message goes up there is no way to inform people that it has changed 44.7%
There is only a few teachers with the IT skills necessary to post the information 35.4%
Messages meant only for parents and guardians can bee seen by anyone 33.0%
Other 3.4%

Q6: What worries or disadvantages are there regarding using a telephone relay for urgent communication? (Sample size=191, multiple answer)

Relay stops halfway through 61.8%
Since one cannot predict how long the relay will take, one has to just keep waiting for it to finish 45.0%
The message gets garbled while getting passed down the chain 40.8%
Takes a long time for the relay to finish 39.8%
Other 8.4%

In the next question, group 1 most wanted a method for communication with students for when the school closed for about a week, and group 2 most wanted a method for urgent contact with parent when influenza broke out. I don’t know why there are two sample sizes of 167 and 175 people, but presumably there was an introductory question about how important people rated each of the two contact requirements.

Q7: What do you want the most as an urgent message distribution system? (Sample size=167 and 175)

  Group 1
Group 2
Homeroom teacher to contact all families individually 42.9% 25.7%
Two-way system for teachers to arbitrarily pass messages to people around them 26.3% 22.2%
System to allow sending email to the whole school at once 10.3% 28.7%
Telephone relay 5.7% 13.8%
Homeroom teacher to send email to individually-collected email addresses 4.6% 1.8%
Postcard, letter 2.9% 1.8%
Other 2.3% 0.6%

Q8: What disadvantages are there regarding using a mass emailing? (Sample size=206, multiple answer)

Dealing individually with families who don’t have email addresses 69.3%
Management of email addresses as personal information 65.9%
Cannot confirm mail has been opened, read 49.8%
Handling change of email addresses 46.3%
Sending to the wrong address 33.2%
Handling incorrectly-registed information 25.9%
Since there will only be a few messages per year, students, guardians may forget their ID and password 20.5%
Sending incorrect information in the email 17.1%
Other 5.4%
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  1. David said,
    October 21, 2009 @ 09:03

    You’re in Ashiya right? I’m right next to you and we’ve got all of the 2年生 out, plus 3 more whole classes in the 1年 and 3年 in a jr. high. Also an elementary school 2年生 died last week of the flu. It’s a bit scary, and I’m totally going to get the shot.

  2. Ken Y-N said,
    October 21, 2009 @ 10:17

    David, I’m the other side and a wee bit up in Kawanishi – yes, I heard about the death in Nishinomiya a couple of weeks ago. Not having any kids I don’t really hear much about school closures and about the only first-hand info I get is counting the facemasks (5%-10% right now) on the train to work!

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