Charlie has chickenpox

Charlie has chickenpox

Charlie was born with a health condition which affects his lungs, and means that he tires easily and is affected by strenuous physical exercise. His school makes regular and reasonable adjustments for him to participate in sports, but some challenges were posed by the sports carnival. The school had a policy that each student should participate in at least one event, and they included novelty events such as three-legged races to ensure the participation of students who were unlikely to participate, or win, any of the other events. However, none of the novelty events was suitable for Charlie and he remained the only student who could not participate in a single event. Clearly it was time for additional consultation.

The sports teacher discussed Charlie's participation with his mother, and they agreed that it would be important to ensure that there were a variety of events which involved skill and dexterity rather than speed and strength. When they sought an opinion from Charlie himself, he was terrifically excited by the prospect of an archery competition, and the school undertook to hire appropriate equipment to allow the event to take place.

When Charlie came home from school a few days before the carnival with an itchy blister on his back, his mother suspected it was chickenpox and the doctor confirmed this later the same afternoon. The doctor explained that Charlie should not attend school until the virus had run its course and he was quite well again, and that this could take as much as three weeks. When Charlie's mother rang the school, the deputy principal confirmed that, according to the school's infectious diseases exclusion policy, they had to follow the doctor's recommendation and Charlie would not be able to attend the sports carnival.

Charlie was devastated. He understood that the school often arranged things so that he could do sports with the other kids, and he knew that the archery event had been included especially so that he had an opportunity to participate. He said he felt fine, he was just itchy, and he could still do archery, and he wanted to know why they couldn’t arrange something which would let him come along to the sports carnival. He said it wasn’t fair, and he complained bitterly.

Finally, after a long talk with both his mother and his teacher, Charlie understood. It would not be reasonable for the school to re-schedule the carnival, and they had to keep him away from the carnival in order to protect the health of the other students.

Although the school couldn’t make an adjustment to allow Charlie to participate in the sports carnival, he didn’t miss out. When Charlie was back at school, they organised a lunchtime archery competition. They also decided to nominate one event in the carnival to be the Charlie’s Chickenpox Run, and asked Charlie if he would present the prize at the next school assembly.