Open Letter To The Los Alamos Public Schools Board On Its July 11 Meeting

White Rock

During the last school year, the Los Alamos Public Schools faced an exceptionally high rate of absenteeism, at least an important part of which appears to have been due to health issues, such as COVID, RSV, and a range of other viruses. 

In addition, COVID is not over, much of the US population has waning immunity to COVID, and the latest studies make clear that children are major spreaders of COVID and can suffer both short-run and long-run consequences from it. 

Moreover, Los Alamos seems to be in the grip of a fentanyl epidemic, which has led to the tragic deaths of a number of young people. 

In this light, I am disappointed to see that the agenda for the July 11 School Board meeting makes no mention of school health.

I can’t imagine a higher calling for the School Board at this moment then to help ensure that the LAPS has in place at the start of the school year a robust and public-health oriented program for understanding and dealing with absences, for continuing to prevent and mitigate COVID and other viral diseases, and for helping to prevent drug use among school age children.
The School Board’s inaction on the above would create substantial risks for the health and well-being of our school children, LAPS staff and teachers, and the community.

Thus, I would strongly encourage you to take up this matter urgently and dramatically increase your attention to it, in a science-based and community-oriented manner. 

(Richard Skolnik is the former Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population for South Asia at the World Bank. He was a Lecturer in Global Health at The George Washington University and Yale and the Executive Director of a Harvard AIDS treatment program for three countries in Africa. Richard is also the Instructor for the Yale/Coursera course Essentials of Global Health and the author of Global Health 101, Fourth Edition.)