A few days ago, our Sonoma West Times & News featured a long article from CalMatters on California’s experience with opening the schools in this time of COVID-19. The article was generally upbeat, and in fact one school official called the situation “encouraging.”

But then the article told us that cases of COVID-19 have shown up in several schools in California, and at least one school has had to close because five cases appeared there. We were told that perhaps only one case of COVID-19 infection seems to have been from a classroom while the others were probably brought in from the outside. It seems to me that such findings are anything but upbeat.

Bob Jones column photo

Bob Jones

Sure, among the multitude of school kids and teachers in this state, only a tiny percentage have been infected, but that’s not the point when it comes to this virus. Last February, only a tiny percentage of the people on this planet were infected, and look what happened. And the fact that kids and others are thought to have brought the virus into schools from the outside is not “encouraging” at all. It’s what we should expect, and it puts everyone in the school in danger.

Whether half a class goes to school at a time, or whether the whole class is there on alternate das, the school set-up leads to groups of more than ten people in small indoor places for several hours at a time. This is exactly what the infectious disease specialists tell us we are to avoid.

Masks, social distancing and regular handwashing all help, but everyone has to be diligent and thorough or the barrier breaks down and germs get through. It’s hard to imagine that all these protocols will be strictly followed by everyone in every classroom.

We are told by virus experts that it would be better to forgo family gathering over the coming holidays. If we are going to get together, we’re told to keep the group to 10 or fewer and these should be from no more than three households. So how is it all right for teachers to be in the presence of twenty some kids from as many households several times, week after week? What’s going on in schools falls far short of what is recommended for our Thanksgiving dinners. Actually, the regulations for bars and restaurants are stricter than the practices recommended for schools. What are we thinking?

I write this on the day the United States broke all records for COVID-19 infections — 120,000. We’re on pace for a million new infections in less than 10 days, and California is contributing its share to this dire total. Sonoma County is especially hard hit right now. It’s inevitable that some of these infections will find their way into our schools, subjecting students, teachers and staff to the possibility of a terrible sickness which can have long lasting effects on the heart, the lungs and the brain. It makes no sense to me all.

It’s time to take this deadly virus with dead seriousness. It’s time to do what it takes to get it under control. That has to be job one. Then, like other countries have done, we can take the proper precautions and open our economy and our schools. It has to be in that order. Opening up before the virus is controlled has proven disastrous. For all the life of me, I wonder why that’s so hard for us to understand.

(1) comment


I say Amen, Bob! For the first time in my 82 years I will not be celebrating Thanksgiving with any family member than my wife of 54+ years. our decision, which is shared by all members of our extended family is for the benefit of us all. And by avoiding the possibility that one of us might unknowingly have the virus and transmitting it to other participants--3 or which are active teachers--collectively we are protecting many others, while also reducing the possibilty that the students the active educators in our family are currently working with could lose their teacher for 2 or more weeks.

Today's Press Democrat features an article about the risk to families that college students at institutions with in person classes could bring home to family members during the Thanksgiing break and the difficulty the administators face in trying to limit that risk.

Nobody believes remote learning is equivalent to the classroom. It has multiple negative consequences. But until somebody comes up with a better solution, it's th3 best way to avoid both spreading the virus further when it's already rapidly expanding its reach and potentially leaving more victims with life-long disabilities or lives cut short.

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