Saturday, September 26, 2009

Math Prep, Flu Virulence and Vectors

Classes will soon start for the Fall 2009 term. Last week was full of meetings for LCC staff. A common topic was how to deal with the surge in enrollment as gracefully as possible.
  • The Math Division has added more than 30 sections of classes beyond what it offered last fall, with three of those sections at the Downtown Center.
  • Overall, LCC is offering 25% more classes than the same time last fall. (Net registrations for Fall 2009 are over 35,900 compared to 28,636 for Fall 2008.)
  • Overall, the number of students is 18% above the same time last fall. (For Fall 2009 the college has over 11,530 students, compared to 9,757 for Fall 2008.)
The Math department has three complications.

First, our classes are in demand. (Engineering, Economics, Physics, and Computer Science are currently the top undergraduate degrees for expected income. Our classes are also required for certificates such as Medical Transcription that are attractive to people looking for a new career.) This leads to issues such as the Math Resource Center recently receiving more funding but the money arriving too late to hire new tutors before classes begin.

Second, the Math/Science building is having improvements made. Finding your class is even more fun if the hallway furniture moves around!

Third, LCC is worried about H1N1 flu (what was recently called "swine flu"). LCC has its own web page about the virus. Oregon DHS has also published a two-page flyer about H1N1 that was forwarded to LCC staff.

Why is the H1N1 flu worrisome?

Partly because it transmits well through the air. The common cold spreads quickly even though it does not transmit well by sneezes (doorknobs and such are usually to blame). Even though H1N1 is a mild flu, where it travels it spreads widely.

The bigger worry is that there is also a very dangerous avian flu going around (mostly still in Asia). Fortunately, this other flu does not transmit well through the air or by touch. But if an animal or person catches both the avian flu and H1N1 then the two flu viruses could mutate and combine. A new flu that spread as well as H1N1 and was as deadly as the avian flu would be Really Bad News.

So keep your sneezes to yourself and stay home if you have a fever over 100!

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