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Letter: District 161 board should focus on improving remote learning, not reopening schools

I recently read your informative article “Board members disagree over what criteria should prompt schools reopening” and was equally hopeful and concerned about some opinions expressed by the board.

I commend Superintendent Smith, School Nurse Knawa and Board Secretary Blackman for being both concerned and knowledgable about the impact this terrible virus has had on our community.

Some comments made during the meeting were quite concerning, however. The suggestion that this virus is only a threat to anyone over the age of 50 is false. And anyone who has done the slightest research on COVID-19 would come to that same conclusion.

Children do not live in a bubble, they are members of the community that (after school) go home to their families where they could potentially spread the virus to other family members, who then further spread it to members of the community.


What none of us know, including the school board members, is the long-term effects of COVID-19. The CDC has acknowledged that people have been battling long-term effects from the virus, including inflammation of the heart, depression, anxiety, changes in mood and lung function abnormalities. Both Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Dr. Janet Diaz of the World Health Organization have warned that this is going to present a significant health issue in the future.

In a New York Times article from Dec. 4, 2020, Dr. Diaz of the WHO was quoted as saying — in reference to the lingering symptoms in younger people and those who were never hospitalized — the coronavirus “urgently needs to be better understood and  investigated.” Essentially, the leading health experts fear that people who do survive this virus could have their quality of life forever impacted, similar to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Instead of complaining about the lack of good statistics, or ignoring the science that we do know, I ask the board to start seriously thinking about how they can improve the children’s remote learning. It is much more likely that the District 161 schools will remain empty for the rest of the year, then they will be open on Jan. 19.

I feel for the children of our community. I can’t imagine what it feels like to not be able to enjoy your youth. But I think we can all agree we would pause our lives for 1-2 years if we knew our lives and those of our friends and neighbors could be enjoyed for the next 20, 50, 70 years.

Weston Auburn

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