Parent makes case to delay school opening to late August

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Open Letter to the Fayette County Board of Education (FCBOE):

Thank you for dedicating yourselves to community service. You are at the point of making decisions for our community that go beyond the scope that you probably envisioned when you ran for office.

When you meet in July and going forward, please consider returning to school as a community health issue rather than a personal choice issue. The goal should not be to please everyone, but to prevent the spread of the virus within our schools and community until an effective vaccine is found, while educating students within the confines of public health guidelines.

A few facts for consideration:

1. With over 20,000 students, plus staff, in a county with a strong upward trend in diagnoses and over 500 known infections per 100K population (and models suggest that many times the diagnosed cases are undiagnosed and asymptomatic, but still capable of spreading the disease), it is likely that at least 100 students, plus 8 or more staff, will show up on day 1 with Covid-19.

2. Each person with Covid-19 gives it to two or more people. Proximity in indoor spaces accelerates the spread. So, 100 people starting the school year with Covid-19 are likely to give it to at least 300 more people within two weeks.

For each week the schools are open in brick-and-mortar mode without masks mandatory throughout the day, the pace of infection is likely to accelerate exponentially. (A South Korean study of 65,000 students found that students aged 10+ spread the disease as much as adults do.)

3. Piedmont Fayette County Hospital’s total bed capacity is 282. ICU beds: 14. Some beds are currently taken up by persons with other health issues, and by people from other counties. About 20% of Covid-19 cases require hospitalization. If reopening the schools in Yellow/Green mode causes 300+ persons to become ill within weeks, it could overwhelm Piedmont. 

4. It is not known who will suffer severe effects or die from this disease, nor is it known how many people will suffer lifetime effects. Children are not exempt from severe consequences and they are extra vulnerable, because they will go into classrooms if adults tell them to do so. They are not old enough to make life-altering decisions for themselves. 

5. It is not yet known how this virus affects healthy young people in the long term. Many viruses stay in the body for a lifetime, potentially flaring up with new symptoms over time (e.g. herpes, HIV, chickenpox / shingles); and we know that some children have been left with scarred lungs and blood clots throughout their bodies.

6.  Once a student has been diagnosed with Covid-19, all the students and staff that the student interacted with will be required to get tested / quarantined for two weeks; so even if the school starts on Yellow/Green, we can expect systemic disruptions.

Therefore, if staff are given a few planning weeks, as the Atlanta Public Schools are doing, the start of the school year at RED for brick-and-mortar in late August will be easier than asking our teachers to adapt to continuous disruption through the year, and they can plan for high-quality education for all classes. E.g., going from Yellow to Red in the middle of a semester will be more disruptive than starting at Red and transitioning back to Yellow.

I ask that the School Board open on Red for brick-and-mortar and consider meal and day-care subsidies for those who need meal assistance and/or daycare so that they can work. Appeal to the state or federal governments for support if needed.

If you open on Yellow or Green without a full-time mask requirement, some people will die, and some will have permanent disabilities unnecessarily. We should not be trading lives for daycare. When students can safely return to the classroom, please always require masks, except when eating. Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of this measure.

We have one precious opportunity to save lives now; and we need decisive leadership to do that. Those who say that the vulnerable should stay at home while all others should return to school are not looking at the impacts to the community of putting 20,000 people together in enclosed spaces. Even in a hybrid model, 10,000 people together in enclosed spaces are likely to accelerate the spread of the virus, potentially overwhelming our community by affecting not just students’ and staff health but also the health of family members, and the psychological health of students who may be the family member who brings the virus into their home.

Please prevent this. You have the power to follow the many public health guidelines that state that with this level of infection in the community, schools should not yet be open in a brick-and-mortar mode.

Angela McKeirnan, a concerned Fayette County parent

Peachtree City, Ga.

6 COMMENTS

  1. OK Angie, you want decisive leadership and you want to keep the schools closed -here I am – Leadership Man.

    You made some fairly good (although conflicting) points, but I can work with that. I decree that schools shall not open at all this year. So there – no kids spreading virus, no hospital beds being overused, no South Koreans, no staff or teachers at risk of illness. Grandparents home school the kids. Everyone stays at home until next year. OK? Happy? Good.

    Some you may want to know how to pay for child care if you have to work and your kids can’t go to school. No problem, got you covered. That’s why I’m a leader. Pretty simple really. Since there is no school, there is no need for teachers, administrators, staff, lunch ladies, bus drivers – all that. Therefore I decree that we not pay those people and refund 80 or 90% of the real estate taxes (that used to pay for those things) to all homeowners and they can use that money to pay for all their childcare and other expenses.

    Better yet, if you don’t have to pay real estate taxes, you can afford to refinance at a higher amount and take some cash out and buy a new car or hire a nanny or something. See how easy this is? Take away from one group of fat cat overpaid teachers and give it to another group – the homeowners struggling to keep their McMansions on 2 middle class incomes.

    Vote for me! I’m a real leader.

    • Keep schools closed from student attendance until January 2021. Placing economics over public safety isn’t a valid humanitarian or moral option. Maybe by first of the year the Government can get its collective act together. It sure isn’t happening now.

  2. 2nd study: German study: No evidence coronavirus spreads in schools
    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/german-study-no-evidence-coronavirus-spreads-in-schools

    Also year to date COVID-19 has killed 3 kids, flu kills 176 kids.
    Furthermore, The CDC reports that in the 2016-2017 flu season, there were 110 “influenza-associated pediatric deaths.” In 2017-18, there were 188; in 2018-19, there were 144.

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/may/28/covid-19-kills-3-kids-flu-kills-176-kids-any-quest/

  3. Respectfully, since the those under age 29 account for less than 0.1% of the Covid-19 deaths to date and none under 29 without an underlying condition, we need not worry about the chidden in schools. https://www.statista.com/statistics/1127639/covid-19-mortality-by-age-us/

    Additionally, French study shows that children do not spread Covid.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-23/school-children-don-t-spread-coronavirus-french-study-shows

    If you want to keep your kids at home, that is your choice; but we should resume scholl for the rest of the county that wants our kids in school.

    • Not to question you, but question your source of information and its impact. First, 1/10th of one percent is a lot of deaths (1/1000th of total deaths). That is a significant cost to humanity in my way of thinking. Second, I don’t necessarily believe the French Study is accurate, any more than I believe I can fly. Talk to almost any physician and they will tell you kids can spread the virus whether the kids get ill from it or not. Finally, parental determination as to whether their kids go to school isn’t relevant. Parents have the option of home school, but other than that, it’s one sided, the Laws’ side. School isn’t for the parents.

    • So you will go sit in schools with the students and teachers. All I am asking is all people that want wear a mask, don’t think the risk is high come and send an equal amount of time in the schools with students and teachers. Are you going? We will wait on these hypocrites. Educators want to teach but they want to be safe. It is barely safe without Covid19.