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FALL 2020 CLASSES

I've been asked by several towns to schedule baking and cooking classes for the coming fall semester.

I gave this considerable thought and have come to the conclusion that hands-on culinary classes can NOT realistically run until there is either a proven treatment or vaccine for COVID-19.

1. Most evening baking and cooking students are seniors, over 65 and many in their 70s and some in their 80s. These folks are at a significantly elevated risk for bad outcomes if they get COVID-19.

2. I am over 65 and have an elevated risk as well. I am not in a hurry to test my immune system against this new bug. Even mild cases often result in a loss of taste and smell. That doesn't sound like fun. My daughter Carolyn took 8 weeks to START getting taste and smell back.

3. K-12 students need to be in school to complete their basic education. These youths are also at significantly lower risk if they become infected. While it may be safe enough and prudent to reopen schools for K-12 classes, evening programs are completely optional, often for entertainment, and should not have the same pressure to restart.

4. Evening classes run when schools are at their absolute dirtiest. Every touch surface including door handles, lavatories, and equipment has been handled multiple times by hundreds of students and teachers. Generally, cleaning happens in the evening, sometimes while evening programs are running. It is virtually impossible to completely disinfect an entire school every night. Even if it was, by the time my classes arrive it's certainly a different situation.

5. It recently became known that people are most infectious BEFORE they are symptomatic and know they are sick. One asymptomatic infectious student could expose an entire classroom to this deadly disease.

From the Hartford Courant on 20 April 2020:
Serving for Connecticut on the regional council are Dr. Albert Ko, professor of epidemiology and medicine and department chair at the Yale School of Public Health; Indra Nooyi, co-chair of the nonprofit organization AdvanceCT and former chairman and CEO of PepsiCo; and Paul Mounds, chief of staff.
...
Lamont has described Ko as “our Dr. Fauci” in reference to the nation’s best-known infectious diseases specialist, and has called him “one of the world’s leading experts” on infectious diseases.
...
Ko recently said that social distancing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in Connecticut will need to continue until a vaccine is ready, a process that could take 18 months. “Even if we reach the benchmarks to reopen, this disease is not going to go away,” Ko said.

So, per Dr. Ko, until there is a proven treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, I think it would be exceptionally dangerous and therefore irresponsible to offer enrichment classes, especially hands-on culinary classes.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Regards,
Don Dickey
Culinary Instructor