To the Editor

The School Board has recommended to the administration and staff of District #299 that they follow the specific guidelines that the State of Minnesota has provided for determining whether or not our students can have in-school learning, distance learning, or a hybrid learning experience.

The administration and staff will work hard to maintain a safe, clean environment at school for our students. The bottom line is that if COVID-19 is in our community, it will be in our schools. It is up to the people of Caledonia to practice the safe habits of mask wearing and social distancing if they want their children to remain in school. If the COVID-19 rate in our county increases, it will directly influence whether or not our students can remain in school or revert to distance learning or hybrid learning. 

Now is the time to show our children how important their safety and learning is for all of us. We must wear masks when encountering other people in a closed space, practice socially distancing, and think about our friends, and neighbors and especially those of us that are more vulnerable to the direct and long term effects of COVID-19 infection. 

While we are learning much about the SARS-CoV-2 virus, there is so much we do not know. For example, many people that survived the 1918 Flu developed Parkinson’s Disease later on in life. Medical science has found that Human Papilloma Virus, Hepatitis C, Epstein Barr Virus, and other viruses can cause cancer. 

Medical science has no knowledge of the long term complications of COVID-19 infection, even asymptomatic infections could lead to subtle changes in the immune system that may take years to show up as a syndrome or disease. 

I have experience treating many inflammatory diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Giant cell arteritis and other forms of vasculitis, as well as many other diseases the causes of which are unknown. 

I have spent over 45 years in Rheumatology, with approximately 240,000 patient visits, bench research, clinical research, and many clinical drug trials. Rheumatologists think that these diseases are probably caused by an environmental factor superimposed on susceptible genetic factors a person may have. 

A virus such as SARS-CoV-2 may trigger an immune response that may show up later. COVID-19 infection can wreck havoc in some people and yet others can have minimal or even asymptomatic infection. Our genetic immune responses vary greatly. 

The COVID-19 infection is indiscriminant. There should be no Democratic or Republican response. As a school board member I fully understand the impact of this pandemic on our economics and social interactions as well as the difficulty many families may have balancing childcare and work (for those us that are still lucky to have work to go to). There are people who feel put upon by being told to socially distance and wear masks, feeling somehow their rights are being infringed upon. We need to think of the greater societal good. We are not allowed to drive through a school zone at 120 mph, is that an infringement of our rights? It is time for all Caledonians to stand up and say stop this nonsense and let’s keep our children safe in school and our vulnerable citizens healthy. We can all get back to a more normal existence if we can keep COVID-19 out of our community. 

Dr. Dan Small

Caledonia

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