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

I gave this considerable thought and have come to the conclusion that hands-on culinary classes can NOT realistically run until my students and I have been vaccinated.

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 is 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.

So, until everyone in my class has been vaccinated for COVID-19, I think it would be exceptionally dangerous and therefore irresponsible to offer enrichment classes, especially hands-on culinary classes.

Proof of vaccination will be required to take any class I teach. No exceptions or exemptions.

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Don Dickey
Culinary Instructor & Adjunct Professor, Tunxis Community College