Thursday, June 24

In-person learning; literature, science, and politics; COVID-19 vaccine; COVID-19 updates

Steve Gibson: In-person learning: Get the schools reopened

The scourge of COVID-19 goes well beyond those infected and spills over to all students. The science is clear and must be followed. Sadly, Boulder Valley School District is lagging. The damage being done to our children is frightening.

Studies, surveys, and the headlines agree: For all grades, remote schooling is doing long-term damage to children’s mental health and education. Particularly alarming are reports of increased teen suicides in our community. The science is clear.

By contrast, there is nothing in the science that suggests it’s OK for selected students and staff to be in school now for afterschool care and other programs, but somehow those same students would be at risk for normal classroom activities. The same applies for pods versus playdates.

Likewise, as seen in numerous countries in Europe and Asia, schools can be kept open successfully, with in-school transmission rates lower than those in the community, and effective, science-based quarantine protocols that keep schools open and students and staff safe.

Most compelling, firm, data-driven guidance from Gov. Jared Polis the health department, and numerous highly qualified scientists and studies is that opening schools with up-to-date precautions and quarantine protocols is a high priority. Numerous large school districts in the Front Range, facing higher COVID-19 rates, have moved purposefully to re-open in January for all levels. Yet BVSD lags.

All of this information is readily available. All of this information has been relayed to BVSD from concerned scientists, parents, and teachers.  All of this information is fact-based, grounded in science, and should be driving BVSD to open schools for all students in January.

To continue to keep students at home, with the clear scientific consensus on the ability to safely return, and the serious, increasing, and long-term damage at-home schooling brings, is not just bad management. It’s unconscionable.

Steve Gibson


Rishi Raj: Literature, science, and politics: The search for deeper meaning

My life has revolved around science, art, and music. It is there that I find solace in these times of turmoil. I also read Thoreau’s Walden every night.

Any page turned at random effuses curiosity, philosophy, and above all, the love of nature. He shows that nature is alive, moving, and changing in mysterious ways.

Simple things that he describes like the color hues of the pond as the sun circles, with and without ice, near the shore and in the deep, are soothing. I can relate to them from my own splintered experiences.

He describes how he pulled an axe from 25-foot deep when it slid into a hole in the ice. The axe sitting on its weight with the handle swaying a bit as he peered through another hole lying flat is, for me, a spiritual experience.

We need an anchor in life. It is something personal. Often it lies at the intersection of many streaks, seeming to connect the rational with the irrational.

Personally, I find scientific discovery an out-of-bounds experience. Questions arise. Occasionally, the revelations are expressed in predictions from mathematical formulations. That is my little world, but it looms large, amid the various activities of daily life. It creates stress too – the search to fund the continuation of the journey of discovery.

This note was inspired by the complexity of politics. Its complexity and its reach in our minds and our hearts mesmerizes me. I envy those who immerse themselves in this sphere, in a selfless way.

I think often of Mahatma Gandhi, who was an innovator in political action, founded on his religious beliefs. Thoreau and Gandhi were the same, but I cannot quite put my finger on it.

Rishi Raj


Jim Faller: COVID-19 vaccine: How to set distribution priorities

In a recent edition of the Daily Camera, Colorado’s vaccine distribution priorities were shown on page 4. This distribution involves a phase 1, winter (high risk and modest risk workers); a phase 2 spring (higher risk individuals and essential workers);and a phase 3 summer (ages 18-64 without high-risk conditions). As shown, phase 2’s single age binning, for people who are 65 or older, seems a bit coarse.

By contrast, I show here the latest information on vaccination prioritization in the United Kingdom, which is as follows: 1.) Older adults in care homes and care home workers; 2.) All those who are 80 years of age and older and health and social care workers; 3.) All those who are 75 years of age and older; 4.) All those who are 70 years of age and older and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals, excluding pregnant women and those under 18 years of age; 5.) All those who are 65 years of age and older; 6.) Adults aged 18 to 65 years in at-risk groups; 7.) All those aged 60 and older; 8.) All those aged 55 and older; 9.) All those aged 50 and older.

This (UK) ordering is done with a much finer within-age structure, and one can only wonder if a somewhat finer ordering structure might
better serve Coloradans’ age-related differences. Far better, of course, would be guidance “from above” (that provides a national
ordering), but it will be some time before that can happen.

Jim Faller


Ray Hedberg: COVID-19 updates: How and when we want them

To the president of the United States:

We, (the citizens of the United States), demand that every day, you personally be required to present, limited to10 seconds, a public service announcement, on all of the national TV news, radio, newspaper, and internet networks, to personally announce (for that day and the previous day) a single factual nationwide number of a) COVID-19 related deaths, b) the number of positive tests, and c) the number of nationally available intensive care unit beds.

Ray Hedberg


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