This is a response to Devin Kennemore’s opinion piece (“Unvaccinated students are being unfairly penalized,” My View, Sept. 5).
Kennemore is a biologist and environmental scientist, and I am not, so I know less than he about the science of COVID-19. But, like him, I am a parent. If I had a school-aged child, I’d be terrified to send her/him to school at all, knowing there are people there who care more about their personal choice than the health of their classmates and teachers.
All schools in New Mexico, public and private, are following the orders of the governor, which is in alignment with advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is for the greater good. “To me that’s the definition of society,” said CoxHealth President/CEO Steve Edwards. “We take care of each other and sometimes you give away some freedom to protect people you care about.”
Kennemore made a decision — with his daughter — not to have her vaccinated against COVID-19. He has the right to decline this particular vaccine, although, as a young child, his daughter must have received many others — polio, measles/mumps/rubella, hepatitis, varicella, diphtheria, tetanus, acellular and pertussis vaccines and boosters — or she wouldn’t be allowed at the prominent charter school in Santa Fe she attends in the first place.
Since his daughter was exposed to COVID-19 (likely by another unvaccinated student, according to statistics) and told to not come to school during a 10-day quarantine period, Kennemore has demanded that the overtaxed school system provide an alternative learning environment just for his daughter. Unable to make this happen, he declares in an open letter that the school system doesn’t care about his daughter’s education. He fails to consider that the school must allocate resources to educate all its students, not just one who finds herself deeply inconvenienced by the consequences of a personal choice.
His dramatic analogy of his daughter’s forced quarantine to “medical apartheid” fails to recognize that apartheid is a systemic, punitive, degrading system inflicted by people in power on groups of people who have not chosen their situation. The term “medical apartheid” might possibly apply to the recent abortion legislation in Texas, but Kennemore’s choice not to vaccinate his daughter is easily remedied. I suspect most women in Texas are neither able nor inclined to change their gender, just as Blacks are neither able nor inclined to change their race.
Kennemore’s daughter is not being punished — she is being prohibited from exposing “her real teachers and classmates she enjoys learning with and who enjoy learning with her” to a serious, highly contagious and potentially fatal illness. I’m certain those people do enjoy being in her company and look forward to seeing her back in the classroom after her quarantine is over, but no sooner.
She is a lucky young lady. She is smart and talented, has access to a wonderful public school that nurtures her innate talents, and obviously has a loving, supportive father. But her father and, presumably, she herself, made a personal choice not to follow public safety recommendations. There are valuable lessons for her here: Choices have consequences, things may not always go your way and life may seem unfair. Those are great life lessons she hopefully pondered during her 10 days in quarantine.