My family is puzzled and dismayed by the Frederick County school board's cowardly and shameful decision to prohibit in-person education this fall in contradiction to the strong recommendations for in-person schooling by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Department of Education.

Some reasons are the negative effects and risks of home stay including poor distance learning results, reduced educational attainment, reduced access to nutrition as well as skyrocketing anxiety, depression and suicidality. Our children are now to lose important socialization, extracurriculars and physical fitness for an entire year. This will be especially pronounced for minority, low income and special needs students.

The negatives of forced home schooling far outweigh benefits; scientifically, COVID-19 represents a very low risk to youth with magnitudes lower mortality than for influenza, suicide, cancer and drowning. Teacher and staff risk is mitigatable with simple preventive measures, a low Frederick County case rate and 2.9 percent test positivity.

By all objective measures, schools should open. We have five children; one of whom has special needs. Home-based schooling will be a full-time job for us and we are left adrift wondering how to replace what school will no longer provide. One year locked in home time out! Perhaps FCPS should refund some of our tax dollars?

(54) comments


While it is fair to disagree with our school board's unanimous decision, it is not fair to call it cowardly, shameful, etc. That kind of overblown rhetoric is counterproductive.

Greg F

Puzzled? Why? Have you been dipping stir the well of lies from trump? If yes, then we know why. Otherwise science has dictated what the rational answer is...unless you just don’t get that at all. We saw what happened in camps and even in schools already allowed to start in spreads easily. Get a clue.


Is everyone you disagree with a Trump stooge or just those you anonymously attack online Greg F.?


So far, it's been anyone he disagrees with. He called me a racist because I didn't want to buy a bicycle made in China. You be the judge.



He called YOU a RACIST!!!! OMG bosco!!!! THAT IS THE WRONG REASON!!!!


I agree, Fido, it was the wrong reason. I like to remind him of it every now and again to demonstrate that the cries of racism lose their effectiveness when overused. Save it for some real racism.



Des21, wouldn’t the question be better formed by asking , if everyone Greg F disagrees with, are Trump stooges?


According to an update I just received from the New York Times, Chicago just went to all online instruction this Fall, leaving NYC as the only major school system in the US with in-person classes. Only time will tell what the correct call is. Hopefully NYC keeps the kids safe, and we don't see a spike.


The case numbers is NYC are fairly low right now, though, so we will see.


So that would make it a best case scenario then.


Can anyone find this Dr. Thomas B. Talbot online, is he an actual medical doctor or a PHD type of doctor? I tried and couldn't see he was a medical doctor because I can't see an actual medical doctor advocating to send his children back to school, why would a medical doctor risk his reputation writing a stunningly stupid letter like this?

Why would anyone that has an actual PHD write a stunningly stupid letter like this?



The best I was able to find was a pediatrician in Aberdeen, MD, which is in the realm of possibilities although a long commute.

Hard to say, but this entire article seems to gloss over so many of the risks that it is hard to take seriously.



I saw MD1765's post further down and they linked to this blog

Medical Virtual Reality, Games & Simulations, Health & Learning

Click around the website and it tells you nothing but try and supposedly he was in the military?

11 years active duty - Founding JPC-1 Medical Simulation Chair, TATRC Medical Simulation Chief Scientist, Pediatrician, Battallion Surgeon, USAMRICD Course Director

It worries me he takes himself so serious that he wrote a letter like this, it's people like him that will ensure this virus is never under control because he sees nothing wrong with sending his children to slaughter.


I'm breaking a vow I made to never engage in a discussion with someone who choses the nom de plume "Purple Pickles" -- oye. That vow now broken (just this once) it worries me -- and I"m guessing a lot of others -- that you feel a need to stalk someone with whom you disagree and then blab your "findings" all over the internet. Very disturbing behavior.



Seeker of truth veritas nothing I posted was private it was from a link provided by MD1765 so your point is what exactly seeker of truth?


veritas, some people questioned that Talbot was a doctor. With a simple search I confirmed that he is. No stalking involved, no stalking intended. Period.



Remember what we were talking about yesterday ? This speaks to the last comment you made about having to start and stop school because of Covid outbreaks.

Entire second-grade class in Georgia school forced into COVID quarantine after just one day


God help him if he's a Ph.D.! That cuts no ice with this highly educated crowd!


Ph.D.? Somebody needs to weave the baskets.


What is "cowardly and shameful" to you might just be "bold and morally correct to others." You're focus is solely on the students. What about everyone else and the increased risk to them? We don't know enough to guarantee there won't be significant consequences to reopening schools now. You can't just start and stop a school term until you get it right. That would be far less efficient and effective than making a decision and sticking with it in this case. Go back to school when there is a vaccine.


[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] MD1756! We have to do the best with what we got. What we got is distance learning. Let's make the best of it. If that means a bit more effort to make it work, so be it. Maybe he should look into "Learning Pods" in his area, or set one up.


Put an ad on Craigslist for tutors/teachers for his five children? It seems clear the private school route is not an option here, although he is a "Dr.".


I believe this is the link to which the good doctor is referring to. It is signed off by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association, and the American School Superintendent's Association. While it does stress the need to return to a normal school experience, it doesn't quite say what he thinks it does, especially in the last paragraphs.


A smart "Dr." would have started off this editorial with a statement as to his expertise and field of study. As he appears to not be a "MD.," all of his discussion that follows must be looked at skeptically and with questioning as to motive.

For all we know, this individual could have a doctorate in interior design, religion, turf management or apiary sciences. Just throwing around the moniker "Dr." without context cracks me up.


Dude, you shouldn't have had five children



I don't have 5 children, but I am sympathetic to the writer's situation. I have 2 young children and everything sucks right now, but there is no way I am sending them into harm's way right now.

One of the reasons to have kids is to continue your DNA line, but they can't do that if they never make it to be adults.

Additionally, my MIL is a retired teacher. I can't imagine if she was still working and was placed into a position of having to walk into a situation like this. That's not what anyone signed up for.


Superb post. Only difference is I have no empathy, as evidenced by my other posts to this editorial.


Wow, shift, you regularly tell people how they should write their comments, letters and essays- and I thought that was presumptuous! Only the tip of the iceberg for you eh?


We all make our choices and deal with the consequences. This guy had five kids and is now complaining because with all those kids at home it is difficult for him. Well, if he wouldn't have made that choice then it wouldn't be so difficult. It seems pretty straightforward. If you want to have five kids then more power to you, but don't then complain about the problems you are having because you have five kids. I thought you were all about personal responsibility, des? Has that changed?


I have found, in my fascinating life, that many of my good friends who returned to the farm after obtaining a high school degree in southwestern VA are actually much more astute, common-sensical, empathetic, rational and accepting of the challenges they face in life than many so-called "Dr.s" with some book sense, but lack of common sense.

The author must embrace the challenges before him and make lemons out of lemonade. It will make him a stronger man.

He needs to quit whining he will be unable to place his children in public schools in the midst of a pandemic possibly worse than 1918. The author had five children with his spouse. The author needs to grow up, accept responsibility, and parent his offspring.

At the end of the day, if you cannot fully support, nuture and raise five children, a person should not bring five children into this world. This situation is not an environment to simply complain about FCPS, which is trying to take the condition and needs of ALL Frederick County children and parents into account.


Sad, but true Happy.


I know Gabe. I have two children of FCPS age. I made sure with my wife that we could fully raise, support, protect, allow to thrive, combat the threats to, and fully love both of them before we brought them into this world.

I rely on no one, nobody, or no outside entity to ensure my children become successful in their lives. That is 100% fully the responsibilty of both myself and my wife, and we embrace this challenge, through all of its ups and downs. If FCPS was not working, we would be considering private schools. However, we are blessed our two kids go to very good FCPS schools.

My wife and I face challenges head on. No complaining here. Complaing just rents space in our heads we do not have time for.

Keep staying safe, Gabe!


Same here Happy. Stay safe. [thumbup]


[thumbup] As one who has no children, I applaud you and Gabe for being responsible parents and citizens, thinking of the consequence and impact of your actions on others before acting.


Personal responsibility for your own actions. Way to go, HappySeller. [thumbup][ninja]


Thank you MD1756 and Bosco for your kind words.


Yet another "all about me" diatribe.



This is distressing to read. Our family is limited to one former child because I did not want to exceed our level of competence in any respect. Some said, "one child is a hobby, two is a family." So be it. This would have been my nightmare. I'm guessing you think you can't consider a private school (they have scholarships for true need.) And I'm reminded of our daughter's trumpet lessons, and the teacher who corrected those who referred to him as "Mr." Instead of "Dr." My dad was a dentist. He called himself "Chet", others called him "Doc." That is neither here nor there, just an association with a distracting element in your predicament. I hope it works out. Our daughter moved out again and is holding a job and taking a class on a campus and I'm kind of a wreck. I would be ok with her taking a year to hang at home maybe rethinking some things, maybe getting a little dumber, who cares, she is safe. But no. Not to be.


Yeah having kids at home is a PITA, but that ship sailed months ago. Since you included "Dr." in your name, what is your field of expertise? By all objective measures, putting children and adults in a box for hours a day and weeks on end with an infectious disease is asinine.


“Forced home schooling”. Good grief. I have no idea what you are a “doctor” of (hint: MDs do not give themselves the title of Dr when they write their names), but please grow up and drop the hyperbole.


With a quick search, he does appear to be an MD not just Dr. see: which is associated with a Thomas Talbot from New Market.

He focuses only on the children and appears to ignore the other part of the equation (everyone else). As far as "reduced access to nutrition" that is the parents fault, not the schools system's fault and there are ways to get around it such as the SNAP program, food banks, even having schools prepare meals for pickup and/or delivery. Even if there is "reduced educational attainment" what is worst case scenario? Delaying the child's educational progress a year? Th parent's can/should step in to help make sure that doesn't happen.

As far as refunding educational tax dollars, while I think that would be dumb (and I have no children) the first dollars should go to those who pay the most which are those of us with no children, wouldn't you agree Dr. Talbot?


Thanks for the info I didn't see this when I made my comment above about what kind of doctor this Talbot dude is.


If the baseball teams, with all their money, can not keep their players safe - How can our schools do the job.

Better safe than sorry.


Did you get that from my comment yesterday?


That is possible. I remembered if from yesterday morning "gary4books Aug 4, 2020 7:02am

With the Virus so new, there is still much to learn about it. Decisions made on partial information are always a danger. Why risk the children on our guesses? There is always some risk in life, but we should avoid the problems we can see. If it were so easy, none of our baseball players would be infected. they have got tons of money for safe distancing and prevention. Still they are infected. How can we expect our schools to do better?" Or did you mean "Better safe than sorry." And I have written that earlier, too.


I was referring to the baseball part since I made a similar comment yesterday. It was in response to the LTE writer bringing the private sector into the discussion and I gave baseball with their billions in revenue not being able to get it right, what chance do budget strapped schools have of getting it right and not putting additional people at risk?


Great minds follow the same path. But so do simple ones.


Let me say it again for those in the cheap seats. The head of the CDC is a political appointee.

There is no objective measure that says that we should open schools.

Having DR in your title doesn't mean that you are an expert in any of the relevant expertise required to make that call nor does it even mean that you practice medicine. I can't find this guy referenced in any local practice, so I'm going to assume (s)he is a Dr of theology or philosophy. Because without any data or claims to back up that this person is indeed someone with the correct credentials to make any sort of legitimate claim that his opinion is fact. I'm glad (s)he is willing to sign up their kids as tribute though. May the odds be ever in your favor.


You are correct NMP. However, someone may have an MD, yet not work in a local practice. MDs also work in many Federal and State government offices (NIH, FDA, CDC, NIST, and on base), pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms, etc. Normally one with a medical degree uses "MD", however, he may have a PhD, and work in those same offices mentioned above. But then he may also have an EdD. Who knows.



That's kind of my point. There was a reason that they included that DR in their title though the reason that people typically do that is that they want to be considered some sort of authority.

This article uses a very small slice of the whole picture in order to craft a narrative that it is safe and it really isn't.

Just because kids don't seem to be at as high a risk as adults doesn't mean the risk is non-zero. Additionally, it almost completely glosses over the recent update that says that kids carry 10-100 times the amount of virus as adults. That in and of itself (at least in my mind) means that they have a higher likelihood of getting others sick.

I get it that having 5 kids to deal with during this time sucks and is stressful, but having to bury kids/adults unnecessarily because we are highly inconvenienced seems like a worse conclusion.


If he was a real "Dr." he should have the means to fully support his five children. Unless he is an expert in religious studies, weed science management, Roman art, or dozens of other questionable areas of study/expertise.

If he is a "MD," is he a pediatrician? If so, WOW. If he is a podiatrist, his "Dr." just for show here.


Please reread the first paragraph. There are the sources!



That is not a source.

That is a vague reference for us to go and spend all day reading a paper that probably does not agree with what the author claims except for one little reference where the stars align for 5 nanoseconds.


I’m puzzled by someone who would focus on one source, which specifically suites the narrow view of an individual. I am dismayed by someone, who ignores statistics, and would throw teachers and children into a Petri dish, thus infecting every corner of a community. With the prefix “Dr.” attached to a name, one would think multiple sources would be cited, with statistical data which supporting a claim. *Redo this submission, with multiple sources and statistical data cited, which supports your claim.

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