Yesterday started out as a normal Monday; however, it quickly changed. In the middle of the first class, the branch manager came in and told me that we were going to have a week vacation because of swine flu in Seoul and the possibility of spreading it to the children. She then, in Korean, told the kids that we had the week off and their faces lit up. Later, another teacher asked me if I had heard the news. Within the last five minutes of class, my co-teacher came to my class to tell me and to tell the kids because she did not know that we already knew. The first group of kids were supposed to be there until 4:00 p.m. but they left at 3:15. After that, the phones were ringing off the hook and the Korean staff and Korean teachers had to inform parents about the cancellation of classes. There were some students who did not know and came to the hagwon but then were told there were no classes.
Because of the fear of swine flu, I have to take some precautions. I am prohibited from going into work. I have to take my temperature at 10:00 a.m. and 5 p.m. and then send the readings to the manager so she can send them to the headquarters in Pusan and then onto Seoul. I'm supposed to stay at home and if I do go out in public, then I have to wear a mask. There is a fear that foreigners will pass it around and in addition, it is believed that foreigners do not have as good an immune system as the Koreans because a lot of new teachers get sick when they first come to Korea. I cannot leave Pusan.
As a result of this, I have to write letters to all the students and parents. It will take a while because I have so many students. Luckily, this is a paid mandatory vacation. At first it looked like nobody was getting anything for this week off, but I will. I don't want to stay at home all this time, but the advantage to that is that I don't have to wear a mask.