Blog Post

Where's the Red Cross?

Where's the Red Cross? Lately, I have been reading up on the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic and the Red Cross played a central role in recovery. Many people volunteered in their communities. I looked on the website and they are collecting plasma donations of Covid-19 survivors which is really awesome!

I haven't seen too much on the news about humanitarian efforts and volunteering during this time. I was wondering what if the Red Cross partnered with public schools and helped out families who are homeschooling.

When researching the 1918 Pandemic, I have been particularly interested in the roles teachers play with regard to education and recovery. Recently, I applied for my PhD at Notre Dame in Sociology. I didn't get in this year, but am thinking about reapplying for next year. I am interested in studying the sociology of education. For now, though I am following my own intellectual quest and researching on my own. That is one of the things I miss about graduate school. I am all but dissertation in special education. I miss being able to stretch my thinking and see and interact with folks with dynamic and diverse perspectives. I know I don't need my PhD, but it certainly opens up the doors to being able to be part of contribute.

Back to historical research, teachers in the 1918 helped by making a lot of home visits. For the schools in Chicago and NYC that remained open there was a lot of absenteeism. Teachers would visit families and see if they need medical care and food. According to some of the articles that I read, Chicago Public Schools and NYC Public Schools were kept open because they didn't want children running around the streets unsupervised. It would be interested to read old journals of those teachers to see how they responded. Even back then, teaching was viewed by many as babysitting and those services took precedence over public health. Or did it? Back then schools had more of a health infrastructure. Today many schools share a nurse and they are overwhelmed.

I teach special education and often special education teachers are doing nursing duties as well such as inserting catheters for older students who were not potty trained, cleaning tracs, taking temperatures, teaching potty training and health education. 

Reflecting on special education over 100 years ago, many of the students that were medically fragile would not have survived back then. With medical advances schools have students with more and more medical needs. Back then there were not inclusive special education programs. Even now special education teachers work hard to advocate for their students' needs. Back then, many children with disabilities were institutionalized. Hmmm...that brings me to another thought 'What were the institutions like during the 1918 Pandemic?' How were children with special needs treated during that time? What can we learn from the teachers and caregivers from that time?

Fast forward, when I took the volunteer quiz on the Red Cross page it matched me up with leadership, social networking and education as possible volunteer activities. However, when it asked me to enter my zip code, the website said that there are no volunteer opportunities in my area. We live in Northern Cali.

I did notice on the history of the Red Cross page that they developed a nursing credential program. It would be awesome if they could partner with special educational teachers so that we can develop a program for teachers and nurses to collaborate on health education programs to reach students with special needs. For example, I thought of a lesson on wearing masks for students with autism. Perhaps we can have children draw their expressions or Velcro their expressions with felt expressions to help students read how their peers and teachers are feeling. Maybe we can turn health education for students with special needs into a fun expressive activity? So much of special education has turned back to the behavioralist model. It would be great to have the pendulum go back to a humanistic model. A Humanistic Model of education is so much more joyful!! How 'bout it Red Cross?






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