School Board Elections – A Public Health Perspective


Los Alamos is facing a school board election that has enormous consequences for the health and welfare of our children and for our ability to keep schools open. Los Alamos voters must decide if they want to support candidates who believe in science and evidence-based approaches to public health or if they would rather support those who don’t. Los Alamos voters must also decide if having school leaders who believe in and will enforce New Mexico’s public health guidelines is important to them. The recent outbreak at Barranca Elementary School highlights the significance of this election.

To assist your consideration of this matter, please consider a few facts. 

COVID vaccines are not perfect. However, they still provide substantial protection against infection and very high protection against hospitalization and death. Is your candidate likely to promote the immunization needs of all eligible people in Los Alamos, as they evolve over time?

Universal masking in schools can substantially reduce viral transmission. A recent study showed, for example, that schools that did not have mandates for universal masking in place at the start of the school year had 3.5 times the rate of COVID infections of those that did. Will your candidate do all they can to support universal masking indoors in our schools until competent people deem them to be no longer needed?

Kids get sick from COVID and bring home infections to their families. In fact, in recent months it appears that kids have had higher rates of infection than adults. In addition, in the last two weeks of September almost 400,000 children were infected in the US. While kids generally don’t get as sick as adults do, the number of children hospitalized in recent months dramatically increased. Moreover, a new Israeli study suggests that about 2% of young children and almost 5% of older children still suffered symptoms six months after infection. Will your candidate do all they can to prevent your children from getting infected? 

I have followed the campaign for the school board with interest, from filling of the vacancy some months ago until now. I have also spent all of my professional life working on the health and education of children, mostly very poor children, in low-income countries. As a resident of this community, I care deeply about the health and wellbeing of children in Los Alamos. 

Given the above, I enthusiastically recommend you vote for Melanie Colgan, Erin Green, and Antonio Jaurigue. The health of Los Alamos’ children will depend on it.

Richard Skolnik
(in his personal capacity)