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.

Will you get a swine flu shot?

View Results

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 closed47.5%
Yes, whole school closed21.9%
Yes, one year closed16.4%
None of the above37.9%

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)

Two to four times59.8%
Five or more times11.4%
Zero times5.0%

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

Worries about students developing serious diseases68.1%
Effort and responsibility to keep parents and guardians informed about influenza55.9%
Reduction in the students’ concentration on schoolwork37.6%

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 site58.4%
Telephone relay52.3%
Each class teacher phones every family in his/her class41.1%
Use mailing list to inform everyone at once28.0%
By postcard, letter17.8%
Teachers arbitrarily pass messages to everyone around them9.8%
Don’t have any fixed methods for urgent information on school closure3.3%

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 internet92.7%
When a new message goes up there is no way to inform people that it has changed44.7%
There is only a few teachers with the IT skills necessary to post the information35.4%
Messages meant only for parents and guardians can bee seen by anyone33.0%

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

Relay stops halfway through61.8%
Since one cannot predict how long the relay will take, one has to just keep waiting for it to finish45.0%
The message gets garbled while getting passed down the chain40.8%
Takes a long time for the relay to finish39.8%

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 individually42.9%25.7%
Two-way system for teachers to arbitrarily pass messages to people around them26.3%22.2%
System to allow sending email to the whole school at once10.3%28.7%
Telephone relay5.7%13.8%
Homeroom teacher to send email to individually-collected email addresses4.6%1.8%
Postcard, letter2.9%1.8%

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

Dealing individually with families who don’t have email addresses69.3%
Management of email addresses as personal information65.9%
Cannot confirm mail has been opened, read49.8%
Handling change of email addresses46.3%
Sending to the wrong address33.2%
Handling incorrectly-registed information25.9%
Since there will only be a few messages per year, students, guardians may forget their ID and password20.5%
Sending incorrect information in the email17.1%
Read more on: ,,,


  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!

Leave a Comment


1 Trackback \ Ping »

  1. December 13, 2009 @ 00:24

    […] Swine flu worldwide epidemic […]