Miller questions district’s plans to reopen schools

Community, News, Rebel's Corner

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Dr. Dillon Miller of Blue Ridge Medical Group spoke publicly at the recent Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) meeting about his concerns with the district’s plans to reopen schools in August.

Miller was previously consulted before the decision was made to close schools, prior to the state mandated closure, in March. However, Miller was not a part of the process in the decisions made to reopen.

Fannin County, Georgia, Blue Ridge, Covid-19, Coronavirus, Schools, Reopen, August, Medical Group, Fannin Regional Hospital, Dillon Miller, Jocelyn Miller, Social Distance, Masks, Cases

Photo courtesy of Blue Ridge Medical Group.

Tonight the Fannin BOE presented their plans for returning to school in the fall. These plans were finalized in the absence of my husband, the Chief Medical Officer at Fannin Regional Hospital,” Jocelyn Miller, Dillon Miller’s wife, said in a statement on Facebook following the BOE decision.

Jocelyn went on to say, “He has no agenda other than to protect the lives of students, teachers, and staff in our community. His view is limited to the best medical science that currently exists and is in accordance with regulations outlined by the CDC.”

Among Miller’s concerns are the district’s lack of planning to require students and staff to social distance or in the absence of distancing, wear a mask.

I wear a mask all day. I do not enjoy it, but I do it because it keeps people safe,” Miller spoke to the BOE, adding, “Some are concerned about it depriving your body of oxygen, this is not true.  What is true is that If everyone is wearing a mask, this significantly reduces transmission of covid-19.”

Miller spoke of the seriousness that he has witnessed with Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and the possibility of spiking cases in the Fall and Winter months: “This is not the flu. Never in my experience as a physician have I seen tertiary hospital ICUs filled to capacity in July.”

As a community physician my greatest concern is the safety and health of the teachers and staff. These individuals are on the front lines caring for our children and putting themselves at the greatest risk,” Miller stated explaining that while children might display minor symptoms or none at all, they are still able to pass the virus on to those in more susceptible age groups.

According to Miller complacency could lead to Fannin County seeing a more serious outbreak, like those seen in other counties in Georgia.

Dr. Dillon Miller’s full statement to the Fannin County Board of Education:

I want to briefly go over the medical recommendations for preventing the spread of covid 19 in schools.

There are three ways we know we can prevent the spread of Covid 19

  1.     Handwashing
  2.     6-foot social distancing
  3.     Wearing a face mask

Handwashing is self-explanatory, so I would like to discuss the other two.

Studies show that if you are within six feet of an infected individual in an enclosed space for longer than 15 minutes, your chances of catching covid-19 increase significantly. Under typical conditions students and teachers are within feet of one another for hours at a time. If it is not possible to spread students six feet apart, the science clearly states that masks must be worn. This is the policy being enforced at universities around the state.  

As a physician I cannot support a plan moving forward that does not mandate 6 foot social distancing and when this is not possible have a mask requirement.

I wear a mask all day. I do not enjoy it, but I do it because it keeps people safe. Some are concerned about it depriving your body of oxygen, this is not true.  What is true is that If everyone is wearing a mask, this significantly reduces transmission of covid-19.  Remember masks protect others more than they protect the wearer.  This is one of the best weapons in our arsenal.

Some people believe that children cannot become infected with covid-19. While children under 15 are less likely to be infected and will develop less severe complications, there is still debate about their level of infectiousness. Teenagers, however, are more susceptible than small children and more likely to spread the disease. Some of the first cases in Fannin County involved high school students.

As a community physician my greatest concern is the safety and health of the teachers and staff. These individuals are on the front lines caring for our children and putting themselves at the greatest risk. Masks and six-foot social distancing are their only forms of protection. If you are not mandating masks or social distancing you are denying them a safe work environment.

This is not the flu. Never in my experience as a physician have I seen tertiary hospital ICUs filled to capacity in July. Some hospitals that regularly accept transfers of the sickest patients are not accepting transfers due to lack of beds. July is when doctors go on vacation and relax, this is not normal. Expect the fall and winter to see even more cases.

Due to the bold choices made by the board of education and community in March, we in Fannin county have not experienced a surge of covid cases like other areas in the state but that can change if we become complacent.

Thank you and I pray for your health and safety.

9 Comments

  1. Concerned Teacher July 13, 2020 at 9:50 am

    Thank you, Dr. Miller!

  2. Concerned Teacher July 13, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    Please note that in addition to the BOE meetings being moved from the BOE office to the PAC to encourage social distancing, the picture above clearly shows the members of the BOE and the superintendent are sitting at least 6 feet apart from one another wearing masks while the back to school plan for students, teachers, and staff includes virtually none of those same precautions.

  3. JC July 13, 2020 at 3:06 pm

    This Facebook post from a concerned parent on the FCSS Facebook page:

    If a teacher tests positive for COVID-19 are they required to quarantine for 2-3 weeks? Is their sick leave covered, paid?
    • If that teacher has 5 classes a day with 30 students each, do all 150 of those students need to then stay home and quarantine for 14 days?
    • Do all 150 of those students now have to get tested? Who pays for those tests? Are they happening at school? How are the parents being notified? Does everyone in each of those kids’ families need to get tested? Who pays for that?
    • What if someone who lives in the same house as a teacher tests positive? Does that teacher now need to take 14 days off of work to quarantine? Is that time off covered? Paid?
    • Where is the district going to find a substitute teacher who will work in a classroom full of exposed, possibly infected students for substitute pay?
    • Substitutes teach in multiple schools. What if they are diagnosed with COVID-19? Do all the kids in each school now have to quarantine and get tested? Who is going to pay for that?
    • What if a student in your kid’s class tests positive? What if your kid tests positive? Does every other student and teacher they have been around quarantine? Do we all get notified who is infected and when? Or because of HIPAA regulations are parents and teachers just going to get mysterious “may have been in contact” emails all year long?
    • What is this stress going to do to our teachers? How does it affect their health and well-being? How does it affect their ability to teach? How does it affect the quality of education they are able to provide? What is it going to do to our kids? What are the long-term effects of consistently being stressed out?
    • How will it affect students and faculty when the first teacher in their school dies from this? The first parent of a student who brought it home? The first kid?
    • How many more people are going to die, that otherwise would not have if we had stayed home longer?
    30% of the teachers in the US are over 50. About 16% of the total deaths in the US are people between the ages of 45-55
    We are choosing to put our teachers in danger.

  4. Nunya July 13, 2020 at 5:14 pm

    Bless this man for caring about our teachers and students.

  5. CONCERNED PARENT July 13, 2020 at 5:29 pm

    I AM A CONCERNED PARENT AND I COMPLETELY DISAGREE WITH THE DECISIONS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE FOR OUR SCHOOLS. I FEEL THAT THE BOE IS NOT LOOKING OUT FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF OUR KIDS. THIS IS ABSURD. I HAVE A CHILD GOING INTO THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AND THEY ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING WITH OUR STUDENTS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE SAFE AND THROWING THE TEACHERS OUT TO THE WOLVES ON THIS NO SOCIAL DISTANCING OR MASK. I WOULD THINK WE WOULD ONLY HAVE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF STUDENTS IN EACH CLASSROOM THAT WERE AT LEAST 6 FEET APART. IF A CHILD COMES INTO SCHOOL THAT HAS HAD MEDS GIVING FIRST THING IN THE MORNING AND HAS THIS VIRUS THEY HAVE INFECTED OVER 20 KIDS AND TEACHERS BEFORE THEY EVEN KNOW IT. I DO NOT AGREE AND DO NOT FEEL THAT OUR TEACHERS AND STUDENTS ARE BEING PROTECTED AT ALL I DO NOT CARE WHAT ANYONE HAS TO SAY ON WHAT THIS DR SAYS AND THAT DR SAYS YOU AS PARENT OR GRANDPARENT OR WHATEVER YOU ARE SHOULD TAKE THAT EXTRA STEP FOR THESE SCHOOLS AND THE TEACHERS AND KIDS THAT IS IN THEM. I AM SHOCKED AND NOT HAPPY WITH THE DECISIONS MADE BY THIS COMMITTEE! WE CAN TAKE THE EXTRA STEP NO MATTER WHAT IS SAID AND NO ONE IS DOING THAT. IF I WAS NOT A FULL TIME WORKER MY KID WOULD NOT BE GOING TO SCHOOL UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES BUT UNFORTUNATELY I DO NOT GET TO MAKE THAT CHOICE!

  6. Terra Pearson July 13, 2020 at 7:03 pm

    Thank you Dr. Miller!

  7. CONCERNED PARENT July 14, 2020 at 5:58 pm

    GUESS MY COMMENT WAS DELETED CANT EVEN VOICE YOUR OPINION ANYMORE!!!

  8. jg July 26, 2020 at 12:06 pm

    My question is will teachers & All Staff members be tested before school starts, because you can have covid19 and have no symptom’s.

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