8 to 3: Keep kids’ water safe this hot vax summer


This is the July 5, 2021 edition of the 8 to 3 newsletter on school, kids and parenting. Do you like what you read ? Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.

Tell the truth: you probably went to the pool this weekend.

Maybe your neighbors built an inground swimming pool during the pandemic. Or maybe your apartment complex’s kidney pool is finally open again. Maybe you went back to your gym for a swim or took your kids to Raging Waters or the newly remodeled Algin Sutton Pool in South LA

Whatever your situation, with public, commercial, and shared residential pools now fully reopened and a deluge of new backyard pools built last year, there’s a good chance you’ve hit chlorine since the 15th. June.

In the past two weeks alone, I’ve been to a wading pool in Las Vegas – don’t ask – two motel pools, a river, and three private pools in LA (I also took my son to the Pan Pacific Pool Park, but we couldn’t swim there because they ran out of chlorine.)

For many of us, water sports Feel safer. After all, most are outdoors, where the coronavirus has difficulty spreading. And chlorine kills viruses. If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent so much time thinking about the Delta variant and COVID-19 precautions this summer that you haven’t given much thought to water safety i.e. prevention. drownings. But experts say it’s more crucial than ever this summer.

Now, this is where I usually stop reading. And because I think this information is really new and important, and because I want you to keep reading, I’m going to make a promise to you: There are no earth-shattering trivia in this edition of 8-3. I’ve covered a few child deaths in my day – shootings, stabbings, conflagrations and dismemberments, to name a few – but drownings remain particularly haunting for me. I can not go there.

What I want to tell you instead is what the experts told me about the particular risks present this summer, and how you can mitigate them. As longtime teacher and father of South LA, Sam Taylor, told me while his three youngest children took swimming lessons last week, it’s not like the playground. Accidents can happen silently, in seconds. Children need your full attention in the water.

So here’s the most upsetting thing I’m going to tell you: Drowning is the second leading cause of death in children under 15, after birth defects for the youngest and car crashes for the older ones. It is also much more common in poor children and youth of color, and especially in black children. Additionally, although swimming pools, beaches and other public waterways were largely closed last summer, drownings have actually increased during the pandemic, especially in states like Texas, Florida, Arizona. and California, where backyard pools are common.

“The numbers speak to us,” said Torrance Thomas, who founded the water safety nonprofit Tankproof with his twin brother, Thurman. “The numbers are increasing because children do not have access to quality swimming lessons. “

Swimming lessons are so important to public health and safety that they were actually classified as essential last year. But because the pools weren’t, the vast majority of kids didn’t have access to education. Even now, classes are smaller and harder to find, especially for moms like Denise Brady, a therapist with two young children and a few hours a day spending looking for lessons or waiting by the pool..

“In general, it’s hard to find affordable, local swimming lessons,” she told me. “A lot of things happen during the day, and if you’re a working parent you can’t just have time off.”

This matters not only to children like hers and mine who have never had a swim lesson, but to those who took one two years ago and have rarely swam since. I saw this in action on Sunday at a poolside party where my friend was shocked to find that her 7 year old, who had once been a good swimmer, could now barely get through the pool.

“There will be kids who swam pretty well before the pandemic, and now they might be afraid of the water,” said Jared Weston, director of aquatic sports for SwimRight Academy at the Westside Jewish Community Center. “At the age of 7 or 8, they start to carve, they will not float as easily in water.”

This is why many experts say that one of the most important things parents can do, besides basic water safety lessons, is take their children to swim in pools and beaches with lifeguards. in service. It sounds tautological, but rescuers really save lives.

“If we want to make water recreation safer, one of the things we need to do is dramatically expand access to swimming lessons, but the other thing we need to do is dramatically expand access. to supervised swimming, ”said Jeff Wiltse, author of Contested Waters and a leading scholar on swimming and apartheid in America.

The good news is that many more safe swimming spots are open this summer than last summer, and because they are largely outdoors, most families can feel confident bringing unhealthy children. vaccinated play there. The bad news is that many public swimming pools are not operating at full capacity because there are too few certified lifeguards and too little chlorine to operate safely – topics I will cover later for our article.

But that doesn’t mean you have to keep your kids out of the pool. As Wiltse pointed out to me, swimming pools are a unique source of joy for children. Even the smallest kidney pool can splash and play my son for hours. It is precisely because swimming pools are so appealing to children, and because they find them so much more enjoyable than even the most water-loving adult, that parents need to be vigilant this summer, he said. and other experts.

Take it from Taylor, a father of seven: “You’re in LA, you’re going to be in the water.”

Thoughts on Racism and Independence Day

Alison Yoshimoto-Towery, director of studies for the Unified School District of Los Angeles, wrote a personal reflection for this newsletter, inspired by the vacation that just ended. This essay grew out of conversations about the meaning of July 4 in his life, his responsibility for academic services to 465,000 K-12 students, and the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Huntington Beach lifeguards watch fireworks over the ocean on July 4.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

About 80% of the district’s students come from low-income families, which suffered disproportionately during the pandemic, and about 90% are students of color.

Here is an excerpt from his essay:

Through the experience of my own family, I understand the roots of systemic racism and the need to actively address its long-term effects.

My grandmother was alone in 1942 at Los Angeles County General Hospital when she gave birth to my father. Her husband, my grandfather, and their two toddlers were taken by train to an internment camp near Jerome, Ark. Twelve other American women of Japanese descent, whose families were also forced to leave them behind, were with her in the hospital. When the 13 babies were born, the infants and their mothers were put on a train and taken to a desolate camp surrounded by barbed wire because the government – the government of our country – feared their ancestry.

My other grandparents, simple teenagers, fled the Manzanar camp for Chicago in 1945. My mother was born just after the war, on the South Side of Chicago. His first cradle was a dresser drawer. This is where my mom learned that it was safer for Japanese Americans not to look Asian or speak their parents’ language, but rather keep their heads down, work hard. and to remain silent. How not to look or act Asian?

You can read the full essay here.

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More reports of sexual abuse

Another week, another investigation into sexual abuse at an elite residential school. This time it’s Cate de Carpinteria School, where law enforcement authorities are investigating reports of misconduct by a former employee. Times reporters Brittny Mejia and Colleen Shalby have the story. Cate’s revelations follow the publication of a report on decades of sexual abuse and harassment at Thacher School in Ojai.

Give me your news.

Do you have any comments? Ideas ? Questions? Tips for the story? Send me an email. And stay connected on Twitter.

And on another subject: the school is going to be a little different this year for the students of the Pomona school district, which has decided to fund the school police. Instead of campus patrols by uniformed officers, the district will rely on supervisors trained in de-escalation methods. Here is the story of my colleague Melissa Gomez.

Around the state

We will be talking for many years about how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of children. Here’s another supporting data point: The number of homeschooled children in California appears to have more than doubled in the past year. Of course, virtually all children learned at home, but most did so under the auspices of their regular school. The question is, how many new homeschoolers will be there when schools reopen for in-person instruction in the fall. EdSource.

There has been a lot of writing about the now infamous incident last month in which predominantly white students at Coronado High School threw tortillas at their rivals from a predominantly Latino school. A closer look at the incident reveals an ugly story: last year, Coronado Unified Supt. Karl Mueller promised students he would put his district at the forefront of racial justice – and met a wave of opposition from white parents. San Diego Union-Tribune.

Two leaders of the Latinos for Education organization argue that Latino students have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic and educators must make plans to get them up to speed. Hechinger Report.

We discussed how this year’s California budget provides a big boost to education funding. One thing that means: a lot more money for students with high needs, including people with disabilities. CalMatters.


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