Urges suspension of classes due to COVID-19

To the editor:

As an educator, father, and Iowan, I am writing to urge state and local officials to temporarily cancel or suspend k-12 classes until adequate testing can be performed to assess the true scope of COVID-19 cases in the state. It seems extremely reckless and dangerous to keep schools open right now. We have at least 17 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. Since the disease has a two week incubation period and extremely high rates of spread/infection, it is asinine to keep schools open simply because we have “not technically confirmed community spread” in the state yet.

All of the evidence suggests that this disease has reached community spread in nearly all areas where it is present. The infected Iowans have been traveling freely in their communities for days to weeks before being tested and isolated. The current situation is even more troubling considering the extremely limited testing that has been conducted at this point. How can we know if there is community spread when testing is primarily being allowed only on individuals who have traveled out of the state to other areas with high rates of known infection? It seems that testing for community spread is being blatantly prohibited or limited simply so we don’t have to acknowledge that it is happening.

What evidence have state universities, community colleges, libraries, professional athletes and entertainers based their decisions to suspend/cancel classes and events on, and why is this evidence not enough to warrant closing k-12 schools? The decision to keep schools open at this time seems extremely careless and based more on lack of evidence than the presence of evidence. I feel a preventative approach rather than a reactionary one is a better choice. The decision to delay school closings has the potential to be even more deadly/dire in Iowa than some other areas due to the state’s high population of elderly citizens, our lack of medical facilities and staff, coupled with some of the lowest pay in the nation for nurses and other medical staff.

Brian Wiklander



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