- On Thursday the school district for Columbine High School asked the community their thoughts about tearing down and rebuilding the school.
- The district says that since the mass shooting 20 years ago, the Denver area high school has been a “source of inspiration and motivation” for other school shootings.
- Some argue that the decision might help survivors since staff members from schools that have experienced similar tragedies have said they find it difficult to return to the scene of the crime.
Community Considers Rebuilding
The school district for Columbine High School is considering destroying and rebuilding the school due to the increasing “morbid fascination” of the mass shooting that took place 20 years ago.
On Thursday, the superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools, Jason Glass, published a letter to the community. Glass starts the letter acknowledging the horrific event that took place in April 1999 and how the Denver suburb high school became the “point of origin” for school shootings to follow.
“School shooters refer to and study the Columbine shooting as a macabre source of inspiration and motivation,” Glass wrote. “Called “Columbiners,” there are people across the globe obsessed with the Columbine shooting.”
He cites an incident from April, around the anniversary of the Columbine shooting. A Florida woman known to be obsessed with the massacre, made her way to the Denver area causing 20 schools to be locked down. Glass adds that within the past 11 months, people attempting to illegally enter Columbine High School have increased to “now record levels.”
“Today school safety experts recommend tearing down buildings where school shootings take place,” he explains. “Since the morbid fascination with Columbine has been increasing over the years, rather than dissipating, we believe it is time for our community to consider this option for the existing Columbine building.”
Glass also explains what changes would be expected if a new school is constructed. The school’s name, mascot, and colors would not change, and instead of completely relocating, the new building would be near the current location.
“The existing building would be demolished, replaced with fields, and controlled entry points,” the letter states. “The new building would have enhanced safety features, designed to provide greater monitoring and school privacy”
While the idea of building a new high school is “in the very preliminary and exploratory stages” as noted by Glass, he wants to know the communities thoughts. He also provided them a link to a survey at the end of the letter.
If the Proposal Passes
The letter lays out the financial implications that would affect the residents of the district, noting that voters would need to approve an additional $60 to $70 million for the construction. Glass uses the example of a $500,000 home in Jefferson County, to explain that property tax impact would be around one or two dollars a month.
In 2018, the county voted to pass a $567 million bond investment to improve schools throughout Jefferson County. Each school got a specific amount depending on the improvements needed. Columbine High School was alotted just under $15 million for their projects, including improving security cameras, locks, and entrances.
Glass states in his letter those funds could be used for the construction of a new Columbine or re-distributed to other schools in Jefferson County.
After tragedies like shootings, schools often remain closed until any physical damage, such as bullet holes or blood stains, are fixed. Schools will often permanently close any areas that were at the center of the violence in hopes to ease anxiety. Columbine closed their library, which was the epicenter of the 1999 shooting and opened a new one two years later.
Crisis-response team leader for the National Association of School Psychologists, Cathy Kennedy-Paine, explained that physically being in the area where a tragedy took place can trigger anxiety.
“Obviously going back into a room that you had been in during a shooting would be traumatic, your heart races, suddenly you’re back to the day [of the shooting],” she told the Atlantic.
Teachers from other schools and districts that experience shootings agree with Kennedy-Paine.
“It was an exhausting year,” Rancho Tehama elementary school teacher Ken Yuers told Slate. “Sometimes before I went in that classroom, I would be in that staff room just trying to get myself together.”
Mary-Ann Jacobs, who was a library clerk at Sandy Hook, also told the magazine that she had to put her own feelings aside in order to be there for the students.
“We had 11 children, 6-year-olds, who survived in the two classrooms where the shooters were…It meant, again, putting aside our own grief and trauma every day.”
For a new Columbine High School to be part of November 2019 elections, the county school board must approve the ballot issues by the end of August.
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan
The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”
Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify
A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.
Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts.
Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”
“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”
Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation
Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”
“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”
Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)
Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.
In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.
New Cases Flattening
After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.
Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days.
New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.
Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.
Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.
According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.
In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.
Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit.
While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (The Wall Street Journal)
COVID-Driven School Closures Top Record Highs, But Many Remain Open
While some districts have implemented protective measures, many teachers say they fall short.
Schools Respond to Omicron Surge
U.S. COVID cases, driven by the omicron variant, are continuously topping new record highs, posing difficult questions for schools resuming after winter break.
According to Burbio, a data firm that tracks school closures, at least 5,409 public schools canceled classes or moved to remote learning by the end of last week due to COVID — more than triple the number at the end of December.
That is still only a fraction of the nation’s 130,000 schools, and many of the biggest school districts in the country are still insisting that students come into the classroom.
Los Angeles, which is home to the second-biggest district, is requiring that students at least test negative before they return to school this week.
In the biggest district of New York City, classes have already resumed following winter break. Although the city has said it will double random tests and send home more kits, students were not required to provide negative results.
Teachers Protest In-Person Learning
Teachers in other major districts have protested the local government’s decisions to stay open.
One of the most closely watched battles is in Chicago, where students on Monday missed their fourth consecutive day of school due to a feud between the Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).
Last week, the union voted to return to remote learning in defiance of a city-wide order mandating they teach in-person, citing inadequate COVID-19 protections. Lightfoot claimed the conditions were fine and that students were safe, despite record surges, instead opting to cancel classes altogether while the fight plays out.
On Sunday, the union said it was “still far apart” from making any kind of agreement with public school officials after Lightfoot rejected their demands.
Lightfoot, for her part, has said she remains “hopeful” a deal could be reached, but she also stirred up the union by accusing teachers of staging an “illegal walkout” and claiming they “abandoned their posts and they abandoned kids and their families.”
Meanwhile, teachers in other school districts have begun to emulate the tactics in Chicago.
On Friday, teachers in Oakland, California staged a “sick-out,” promoting 12 schools serving thousands of students to close.