Acceptable Risk - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1714986

Acceptable Risk

I’m not sure what point Lars Clemensen, the superintendent of Hampton Bays schools, was trying to make with his article [“School Reopening Rhetoric Presents A False Choice,” Viewpoint, July 23].

I think he’s saying all choices are bad, and his fear is getting the best of him. A diatribe of academic PowerPoints pop out, such as “hyper-politized,” “manage competing ideas,” “issues of inequity.” Sounds impressive in an academic paper, but what we need is your outline toward a safer school opening, not a dissertation.

Mr. Clemensen, you and your staff did not fail. Online learning is a failure. At this age bracket, it’s just not appropriate for students to learn in this environment.

It’s admirable that he defends his staff and points out all that was accomplished. I’m sure they did the best they could, but online education is a failure for most young students.

I urge Mr. Clemensen to look at the American Council on Science and Health website and read “Covid Deaths Among Children and Reopening Schools.” Presently, in the United States, from the ages of 5 to 14 years of age, we have 14 deaths from COVID-19. From the age of 15 to 24, we have 149 deaths.

Fear seems to paralyze those when considering opening schools. When did we become so adverse to risk, even risk that is minimal? Certainly, staff consideration needs to be considered, and that should be done individually, and if teachers and staff need to make individual choices they should be able to do so.

But to suggest that “just do it” is not appropriate is a disservice to the slogan itself. Certainly, much hard work needs to be done, but some steps are easy, such as temperature checks, good hygiene, wash hands while leaving classrooms. Consider keeping students in the same classes and rotating teachers in and out. Custodians will have additional duties, and that may be where additional staff should be hired at least temporarily.

We all know that some will get the virus, but now we can quickly accommodate and isolate to maintain minimal contagion risk so as to minimize a public outbreak to a entire community.

You said you served 99,000 meals — any COVID-19-related issues occur from feeding so many? I don’t think so, otherwise you would have mentioned it.

Actions speak louder then words. Risk is inherent in life and must be dealt with as such, but fear cannot be the driving force in decision-making. Schools need to open, and I am saying that if you are too fearful to open, you have failed, because you failed to look at the real data that indicates that you can reopen and you should reopen.

Goethe once said: “The dangers of life are infinite and among them is safety.”

Thomas M. Jones

Sag Harbor


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