The Widder Curry: ‘Opening the Schools During the Pandemic Is Absolutely Insane and Is Child Abuse’

by on July 15, 2020 · 30 comments

in Education, Health, Ocean Beach

As a former educator – Teacher, Principal, Inservice Director, Assistant Professor, Deputy Director, etc., I cannot understand all the controversy about opening or not opening the schools during this pandemic.

I also cannot understand why the schools have to be opened in August – one of the hottest months of the year.  I remember when school didn’t start until after Labor Day, and why it was changed is a mystery to me.  If I had my druthers, I would suggest that school end June 30th, and not begin again until October 1st.  The reason for that is also some of the reason that I think opening up the schools in a few weeks is ludicrous.

Number one is that when it is hot students do not learn as well.

Granted that some schools are air conditioned; but an equal number are not.  Following that argument – students that have to sit in a classroom with a mask covering their faces is not a healthy way to spend the day.  To try and concentrate with the mask on their face is not conducive to learning.   It is a distraction.  It also promotes poor hygiene.  What about the child that sneezes? Does he or she take off their mask before they sneeze? After sneezing? Does she keep it on with all the bacteria funneling back into her mouth?  What if she has to blow her nose? How does she do that and not infect the other people around her.

One of the arguments for kindergarten and lower grades is so that children can learn to “socialize”.  But we are going to keep them six feet away from each other so how much socialization is going to take place?  Never mind the huge task of keeping them away from each other.

Given a classroom of 30 children – yes, that is too many in any classroom but for purposes of illustration – you will find that 10 of those students learn one way – let’s say phonetically; 10 more students may learn using the “sight method” to learn, and the final ten students will learn in a variety of ways – phonetically, sight method, lip reading, auditory, etc.  So let’s try this scenario:

Ms. Jones, the math teacher, comes into the classroom wearing her mask.  Immediately ten students will not learn because: they can’t see her lips to help process the material; ten more will have trouble learning because they can’t hear the phonetics.

How did I come up with that?  Be honest. When you are talking to someone that is wearing a mask do you have any trouble understanding them? If you say that you don’t, I would have trouble believing you.  But Ms. Jones is at the front of the class, and Johnny is in the back, and, not only can’t he read Ms. Jones lips, he also cannot hear her clearly.  And when Johnny had an ear test he tested normal.

And carrying this even further – Johnny goes up to Ms. Jones, mask on, and says he needs additional help.  Ms. Jones, mask on, gives the help and neither she nor Johnny knew that Johnny was a “carrier”, and in a few weeks Ms. Jones is ill.  Then she has to be in quarantine for 14 days, and, hopefully survives.  But…what if she doesn’t?  Or what if Johnny doesn’t?  Then all those 30 children in the classroom need to be in quarantine for 14 days.  And just how do you think those kids will react when their very favorite teacher dies? Or their best friend? Or??????

And I am speaking of children that do not have a learning disability. What about the students that are autistic? What about those students that are slower learners? Or the student that has a physical disability? Or the child that has his own form of PTSD?  Do you honestly think that these children are going to be able to learn from a teacher that has his/her face covered by a mask?

And, by the way, those 30 children that have now been exposed to Covid-19,  take those germs home, thus infecting Mom and Dad, and Brother and Sister, and anyone else that lives in the home.  And maybe they didn’t get it in their own classroom. Maybe they got it on the bus; or in the lunchroom, (even though there is a movement on to have them eat in their classroom.) or in the bathroom, or, or, or, or.

And for those that keep saying that  “ . . . the young aren’t getting Covid-19″ – start looking at the statistics again.  Originally it was just the “old folks” that got it.  Check out who is getting it – and dying –now.  And while you are at it – look at the statistics of people, young, younger, and older that have Covid-19 that are from minority groups. What are you going to do in those schools?  Close your eyes and pretend that they are not vulnerable?

As a professional educator, I want to go on record by saying that I think opening the schools during this pandemic is absolutely insane.

The fact that different school boards – Orange County, for example – wants to open the schools to no masks and no social distancing, is, in my opinion, enough for them to be arrested for child abuse.

There is absolutely no way to protect the staff at the schools from being exposed to the virus.  It only takes one person to infect everyone else. And, as a educator that went to school to learn how to best teach our youth, it seems to me that many adults did not learn compassion and empathy for others.

I am a teacher; I did not become a teacher to go into a classroom and die.  If I had children that were school age I would not send them to school.  I have recommended to my grandchildren that they not send their children to school.

And for my friends that are teachers? I have recommended that they not go into the classroom until they are sure their wills and insurance is up-to-date.  They will be sorely missed – and the only lesson the students have learned is that the scientists and doctors were correct – this is a highly contagious disease and only staying at home and wearing masks when out in public will save them.

Don’t be an idiot. Don’t find yourself having to plan a funeral – after the pandemic is over. Keep your children safe at home, and home school them or teach them on-line.  It’s a hell of a lot better than not having them at all.


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Judi Curry July 15, 2020 at 11:58 am

Did you see the statistic today from the Houston Chronicle? There were 43 pages of obituaries! FORTY-THREE PAGES!


Peter from South O July 15, 2020 at 1:39 pm

There are several companies and non-profits involved with special transparent masks for just such a problem. Started with the deaf, as I recall.
But I share your horror about opening up schools. That is just sacrificing health for the economy once again. Orange Man wants that day care so mom and dad can get back to work!


Gilbert E Field July 15, 2020 at 3:28 pm

Thoughtful article as usual, Judi.

What are Trump and his cronies thinking ?


Judi curry July 15, 2020 at 3:48 pm

Not much difference between locking the kids up in cages at the border, and sending them to school where the possibility of becoming quite ill and dying is great. I would have to say that this man has no compassion for children; and, in fact, probably doesn’t even like children. After all, they can’t vote for him!


Jason July 15, 2020 at 4:06 pm

I field this one, not a Trump crony but an advocate for knowledge on science.

I’ll make points then post all the sources below.

Kids are not dying from this. That’s it, that’s all. OK, I lied a bit, 13 kids under 14 have died since the outbreak…in the entire country. More kids have died from many other causes since.

Kids aren’t the superspreaders we expected, recent studies show they likely act like a buffer and reduce the infection rate.

The psychological harm to keeping kids at home outweighs the dangers to them from covid-19, substantially.

The economic impact of keeping kids at home were now an adult has to be present are huge. Single parent families have limited if any alternatives, don’t say day care while saying school can’t open. That leads to food shortages, homelessness, job loss, etc. Dual income families giving up one income will still have a difficult go.

Heat was mentioned, how many kids live in unconditioned houses? Sorry, I won’t have a source for that.


Peter from South O July 15, 2020 at 4:21 pm

What about the teachers, bus drivers, janitors etc? You appear to be quite narrowly focused.


Jason July 16, 2020 at 11:27 am

The German study covers that in brief but here’s a more detailed study on your concert. Basically those adults are more likely to catch it from other adults than the children.


Peter from South O July 16, 2020 at 1:22 pm

From your own source:
“Children rarely transmit COVID-19, doctors write in new commentary: Schools can reopen in fall, they say, if safety guidelines are observed and community transmission is low.”
The operative phrase that seems to escape you is “community transmission is low”
Kinda rules out San Diego, now, doesn’t it?


Jason July 16, 2020 at 2:32 pm

San Diego is below State and national positive tests rates. What is your definition of low?


Dr. Jack Hammer July 15, 2020 at 4:28 pm

The issue is rather complex, but it is just too much of a risk to send kids back to school. SDUSD is not ready for students and there is not sufficient time nor funding to have schools ready for in-person instruction in the Fall. It’s not right to put teachers, staff, students, and families in jeopardy because the nation has inept leadership at every level. What happens when principals get sick? When teachers are sick? SDUSD was short at least 100 substitute teachers on a daily basis LAST year. I know that no one cares about the staff, but many kids these days live with grandparents and extended families, putting them at risk. When high rents force multiple families to cram into small spaces, where do you quarantine if someone gets the Vid? Too much risk and certainly a slippery slope. Other countries that are slowly returning to normal have far superior leadership than the USA… but don’t tell that to the cheeto in charge.


Judi curry July 15, 2020 at 4:37 pm

Kids don’t live in non-air conditioned homes wearing a mask . Your statement re: the psychological damage of keeping them at home outweighs the dangers of Covid? Really? It’s k to get deathly ill; perhaps suffer from the ill effects of the virus for life? It’s ok for someone to die? Where is your compassion?

They are finding more and more young people are catching the virus; more and more are carriers. Children do not need to be exposed to this insidious disease. Stay home; wear the mask when out; practice social distancing. That’s the way to get rid of it- not to send them to the slaughter house


Angela V July 15, 2020 at 6:20 pm

Thank you Judi for writing this and thank you OBRag for publishing! Being a former Clinical Laboratory Scientist/microbiologist, I totally agree with you! And now the information coming out from Italy about the long term effects Covid-19 is having on people, young and old who survive, even asymptotic people should be enough for all of us to realize we need to do our part to help stop the spread.


nostalgic July 15, 2020 at 7:21 pm

Nobody seems to know much of anything. There are no statistics except for death, cases, and testing. This is the incubator laboratory we want to put all the children in. We forget that children have no choice. None of the rules are based on COVID-19, including the magic six foot rule, which is supposed to provide distancing magic. The virus seems incredibly facile at mutating to infect available hosts. Are we really a country where first, old people are expendable, and now children?


Frances O'Neill Zimmerman July 15, 2020 at 11:53 pm

Does Jason have kids? He claims children ” likely act like a buffer and reduce the infection rate.” Really? “Likely” seems to be a weasel-word. Let’s run a controlled study – with Jason’s kids. Put them in a standard class of 35 students, some with disabilities, and a teacher and a couple of aides, in a sealed and newly-air-conditioned SDUSD classroom. (Every school is getting air-conditioning these days, Judi, but no more windows that open and close.)

When you have a global pandemic of COVID-19 and, as in the United States, no unified national response, no functional system of test-and trace, no treatment and no vaccine, quarantine is the only way to protect life. Quarantine slams the economy and makes people miss one another. But quarantine protects life. Plus we wear masks when we’re outside, we stay 6 feet or farther away from other people and we wash our hands frequently. We don’t play the odds or theorize about what’s “likely:” we protect life.


Chris July 16, 2020 at 8:21 am

That’s the thing though. With no vaccine in site in the near future (if ever) how long are we supposed to keep the economy closed? Not having the freedom to go out and do what you like to do is one thing, but people are losing their livelihoods and ability to even keep a roof over their heads. The eviction suspension is not working for everyone. Other people’s savings are being wiped out. Life DOES take precedence over lively hood but livelihood is no small price to pay. It’s a catch 22 no matter what and sadly its pitting citizen against citizen and will only get worse.


Peter from South O July 16, 2020 at 10:52 am

Except for the fact that most other developed countries HAVE shut down and re-opened PROPERLY, and are now in a routine of testing and contact tracing. We f’d up big time, and now we are gonna have to do it again, or the health care system is going to fail. Remember, the people that are trying to cure the infected have been absolutely hammered since March, with no end in sight.


Jason July 16, 2020 at 11:34 am

I have 2 kids attending school in OB and have participated in the school meetings on this subject. That’s why I’ve read every study that I can find and continue to read new ones that come, so I can make an informed decision on this subject rather than using fear and emotion to control me.

I don’t see other people citing sources of studies so it’s difficult to have a conversation about facts when only feelings are being tossed out.


thequeenisalizard July 16, 2020 at 8:06 am

As a former teacher myself, I have to agree. I know how the classrooms were cleaned and maintained before this, and to assume custodians will somehow be more diligent is stupid.
On a side note, I find it rather funny/sad that the meetings to decide to open the schools are all done online, not in person. Should tell ya something shouldn’t it?


Peter from South O July 16, 2020 at 11:42 am

Seems that the Gov. will have something to say on the matter tomorrow:

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to make an announcement on whether or not California schools can reopen for in-person instruction in the fall. He’s holding a press conference Friday at noon.


sealintheSelkirks July 16, 2020 at 2:30 pm

‘That’s Crazy’: Reopening Schools Is Possible, but We’re Doing It Wrong
By Zack Stanton, Politico

Economist Emily Oster weighs risks and benefits for a living. She thinks kids could go back to school with the pandemic, but we’re gambling with lives either way—and the political argument is making the whole problem much worse.

There’s a right way to reopen America’s schools. It requires a clear-eyed look at the data. It demands a balanced discussion of the benefits and costs—to students, parents and educators.

And it looks very little like the path America is on.

“We really run the risk of drowning out balance by having this be ‘the people who want to reopen’ vs. ‘the people who don’t want to reopen,’” says Emily Oster, an economist at Brown University who has spent the past several months tracking coronavirus.

Oster, the author of two best-selling books that take a data-driven approach to parenting and pregnancy, counts herself among those in the “reopen the schools” camp. She worries that keeping schools closed will hurt kids’ education, hurt the economy, hurt parents—especially moms—and widen the inequities that the pandemic is already causing.

But when it comes to how we reopen, that’s another matter. “Florida has said its schools will open in the first weeks of August,” she says. “That’s three or four weeks from now. That’s crazy,” said Oster. “Based on where we are now, if Florida just opens the doors to schools and has everybody back in a normal way, just with a few masks, then a bunch of people are going to have Covid.”

article continue at link…

I really dislike always being the bearer of bad news but that seems to be all there is at this point.



Judi Curry July 16, 2020 at 6:29 pm

Do you REALLY want to send your child back to school? I’d think twice if it were my child. This article from NBC news July 15.

Nearly a Thousand COVID-19 Cases Reported in California Day Cares
New data revealed by NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit shows 998 COVID-19 cases in child care facilities across California. The Investigative Unit documents how two Bay Area child care centers scrambled to prevent outbreaks after learning of COVID-19 positive cases among the kids who attend their facilities.
By Candice Nguyen, Robert Campos, Michael Horn and Jeremy Carroll • Published July 15, 2020 • Updated on July 15, 2020 at 7:44 pm
It’s the phone call that child care facilities have been dreading since the pandemic began. Two siblings who attended Early Horizons in Sunnyvale had tested positive for COVID-19.
“They didn’t have any symptoms,” said Antonio Labrador, the director of the center. The kids’ parents felt some symptoms on June 24 but dropped their children off at the day care anyway.
When they felt sick the next day, June 25, the whole family got tested. Everyone was positive for the coronavirus. That meant that the kids could have been spreading the virus at the center as they played with other children the previous day.
This was personal for Labrador. He and his wife had a baby in February, and their newborn was also at Early Horizons. He stepped into emergency mode.
“What do we need to do to make sure everyone stays safe and it’s not spreading,” he said. He and his team decided to close the center immediately.
he Investigative Unit has obtained new data that shows 998 positive cases of the virus at child care facilities across California in the four months between March 11 and July 12.


Susan July 16, 2020 at 10:30 pm

In 1999 while teaching in SDUSD my students and I all became ill with respiratory problems. Our classroom had no windows and so much stagnant, dark brown water in the ceiling from a new air conditioning system that the tiles buckled from the weight. The district gave me a can of Lysol and a fan and told me to keep the door closed. I went to the union and within a week health inspectors ordered the 8 room building torn down. That is what schools think of their students and staff. My school was just the tip of the iceberg. Schools are a business and this decision of opening or not is based on $$$, to them children and staff are disposable. The bottom line is all that matters.


thequeenisalizard July 17, 2020 at 7:22 am

To those who are trying to claim children aren’t effected or carriers, ask Florida, and then shut the f**k up.


sealintheSelkirks July 17, 2020 at 10:52 am

A few choice cuts from the article below. You all need to read the entire article to grasp the stupidity and desperate foolish fumbling of the idiots in charge of this country, especially those that support this mass delusion:

After Years of (De-funding!) Under-funding, Public School Teachers are Now Supposed to Save the Economy?

“After 9/11, New York City police and firefighters were hailed as heroes,” said Mary Parr-Sanchez, president of the New Mexico affiliate of the National Education Association, when I spoke with her about how educators have responded to the pandemic in her state. “After this, I hope teachers will be viewed as the community pillars that they really are,” she said.

…In the early months of the coronavirus outbreak, the nation relied on health care and grocery store workers for survival, but that labor force couldn’t possibly turn around a crashing economy. Then, conservative governors across the nation, particularly in the South and West, thought bringing back the leisure and hospitality workforce would revive business and commerce. That didn’t turn out so well. So now a broad range of policy makers and political actors are turning to school teachers to get the economy humming again.

…School districts have never recovered from budget cuts states imposed during the Great Recession that started at the end of 2007.

…When COVID-19 hit, K-12 schools were employing 77,000 fewer teachers and other workers—even though they were teaching two million more children, and overall funding in many states was still below pre-2008 levels.”

…Teachers now make 4.5 percent on average less than they did more than 10 years ago,

…So now teachers are expected to save the nation’s bacon?

To those who think ‘reopening the schools are going to ‘save’ the moribund economy that is crashing around all of our ears, you have a LOT to learn. Please read this article and then stop and think about what it brings up.



Geoff Page July 17, 2020 at 11:32 am

lizard, this is supposed to be a forum where people can discuss things on both sides, a polite forum where disagreements can be aired. Please don’t tell people to “shut the f**k up.” We don’t want to turn this into Facebook or Nextdoor.


Mervie July 17, 2020 at 2:08 pm
nostalgic July 18, 2020 at 8:28 am

Our children are not voters, and most will not be old enough to vote for or against the people making decisions about their lives. This is childhood. This is why we used to have laws to protect children. Delaying school start dates is an improvement but not a solution.


Peter from South O July 23, 2020 at 5:06 pm

Four million cases as of yesterday in the US. That makes us the CHAMPS, er . . . CHUMPS. No other nation has accumulated ‘firsts’ in such a bigly way.


sealintheSelkirks July 23, 2020 at 11:17 pm

Not be a pessimist or anything, but wait until it’s 120 million and then see what shape this country will be in.

Of course by then Trump will have declared a ‘national emergency’ and martial law and cancelled the election, and his federal Gestapo and unmarked goon squads will be…energetically controlling the population.

Nope, no pessimist here, nah, no way, uh-uh!



sealintheSelkirks July 26, 2020 at 12:28 pm

Anybody think these are good news? Don’t think so. I’ve got friends up here who are barely able to deal with their kids wanting school to open so they can GET A BREAK.


or this one:

Kawasaki syndrome or MIS-C: Children recovering from COVID-19 also face the brunt of the disease

And just to top it off:

Covid-19 Infections on the Rise in Kids and Teens With School Approaching
California, Mississippi near 10% of overall cases in children

CDC long touted 2% prevalence despite having updated data
Fauci Says U.S. Needs ‘Time Out’ to Get Virus Under Better Control


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