All San Diego Schools Should Remain Closed to In-Person Instruction

Maskless students at Christian Unified East elementary school in El Cajon were divided by plexiglass on desks in August. California used to allow students in grades 2 and under to not wear masks and it did not enforce a minimum distance requirement. Now California is requiring six feet between student chairs and is mandating that students of all grade levels in public and private schools wear masks. (Photo and Caption: Jarrod Valliere / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

San Diego schools and universities should remain closed to students and staff until our vaccination rates are high enough, we have the right support for schools to reopen tackling the airborne nature of the COVID-19, or both.

COVID-19 Spread By Students, and Air

COVID-19 outbreaks tied to universities reopening for their Fall 2020 semester. Source here.

We’re nearly a year into the pandemic and we are:

Airborne transmission depicted by WHO via BBC. Source here.
COVID-19 can still be transmitted via airborne particles WHILE wearing a mask. “The coronavirus is frequently spread through relatively large respiratory droplets emitted when people speak, cough, sneeze, sing and even breathe.” Source here.

A Tale of Two New Administrations for San Diegans

In late December 2020, Mayor Gloria took a good step by signing an executive order calling for stronger enforcement of current COVID-19 measures. I haven’t seen much leadership on the topic since then, but it has been a busy two weeks.

At a glance Mayor Gloria needs to:

Also: requiring teachers in California to teach from the classroom because parents wanted teachers in empty classrooms - without the appropriate support - is also a horrible idea that will continue to put teachers in danger. Teachers should be able to teach from home: COVID-19 bubbles don’t work if we all share the same bubble without knowing it.

American Rescue Plan. Source here.

Our Darkest Winter: COVID-19 Deaths Are Accelerating

The rate at which people are dying due to COVID-19 is averaging 3,000 per day in the United States. To put that in perspective the time it takes for 100,000 Americans to die from COVID-19 is shorter now than it ever has been.

It took:

  • <100 days to reach 100,000 deaths on May 22nd, 2020.
  • 116 days to reach 200,000 deaths on September 15th, 2020
  • 87 days to reach 300,000 deaths on December 11th, 2020
  • 35 days to reach 400,000 deaths on January 15th, 2021
  • 33 days are expected for us to reach 500,000 deaths on February 17th, 2021 if we continue at this rate or things speed up.

In closing, I am very hopeful that the Biden Administration can help spur stronger local efforts to beat COVID-19 right here in San Diego. You can tell the tide is changing as some in the media are returning their focus to migrant caravans and pearl-clutching over the federal deficit. I hope you have as long of a memory as I have about all media that are acting in bad faith, but I hope even more so that you and your loved ones remain vigilant during these dangerous times.

We’re halfway through the COVID-19 pandemic and we will make it through together.

Drexel Psychology 2010, Penn Ed Policy 2015, Harvard Health Management 2018, Yale Blavatnik Fellow 2020