Here To Stay - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1715008

Here To Stay

What is the endgame of wearing our masks, social distancing and not sending our sophomores, juniors and seniors back to school? How long would you anticipate keeping this cohort of students out of the classroom? What solution are we anticipating for COVID-19? A vaccine that has a 100 percent cure rate?

Here are some scientific facts to consider:

During the 2017-18 flu season, 61,000 people died in the United States. That year, the flu vaccine was merely 40 percent effective.

Like influenza, COVID-19 is a virus, which, unlike bacterial infections, is not easily treated. Viruses continue to mutate, which cause them to build up tolerances to medical treatments. Granted, it appears that COVID-19 is possibly more contagious and to some degree more deadly, but there is still some debate going on about that.

The flu has been with us for centuries, and to date there is no cure. Similarly, we should anticipate that there will be no “magic bullet” for COVID-19, and any vaccine developed to treat it may only be effective within a certain percentage of the population. We must therefore face the realization that COVID-19 is here to stay.

But is COVID-19 as dangerous a threat to our children as the media would lead us to believe? In a May 28 article in the Washington Times, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in the 2016-17 flu season, there were 110 “influenza-associated pediatric deaths.” In 2017-18, there were 188; in 2018-19, 144. Yet schools were kept open. There had been only three pediatric deaths attributable to COVID-19 as of the reporting date.

Here are some questions if we do not send our sophomores, juniors and seniors back for the 2020-21 school year: How many students will suffer from irreparable depression? Become introverted? Develop addictions to online gaming? Turn to drugs? Lack a quality education that will allow them to succeed in life?

The three final years of primary education are key to plotting the trajectory of every student. These are also years when critical socialization occurs, shaping our children into budding adults. To contemplate not allowing this cohort of students back into the classroom without every conceivable effort to do so is simply outrageous, bordering on criminal. And to give any consideration to permitting preschool and kindergarten children to attend at their expense is beyond words.

No doubt there are significant challenges to overcome before all students can be allowed back into the classroom, but let’s not accept the path of least resistance. Online-only learning for this very impressionable age group is an appalling option and one that should be wholly discounted in favor of every other concession that will need to be made.

Chris Remkus

Sag Harbor


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