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Distance learning is nothing new: Polio introduces a new way to learn

by Karin L. Nauber

Distance learning may be new for many of us, but the idea is not unfamiliar throughout the annals of history. (For those unfamiliar with the word “annals” it means “a record of events arranged in yearly sequence”.)

In fact, the first “distance learning” was the first learning to ever take place before schools were even a thought.

But we aren’t going to go back that far in history.

We are only going to go back a mere 84 years to the year 1937.

In 1937 a disease which was spreading rapidly called polio is described as “a disabling and life-threatening disease caused by the poliovirus. The virus spreads from person to person and can infect a person’s spinal cord, causing paralysis (can’t move parts of the body),” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Polio was affecting hundreds of thousands of people annually.

According to the CDC, “In the late 1940s, polio outbreaks in the United States increased in frequency and size, disabling an average of more than 35,000 people each year. Parents were frightened to let their children go outside, especially in the summer when the virus seemed to peak. Travel and commerce between affected cities were sometimes restricted. Public health officials imposed quarantines (used to separate and restrict the movement of well people who may have been exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become ill) on homes and towns where polio cases were diagnosed.”

That sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it? . . .


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