Coronavirus Chronicles — What If Summer Slide Never Ends?

As we know, summer vacation has mixed effects on school-age children. The physical problem is counterintuitive, but real. Anyone who holds a mental picture of kids getting lots of exercise and slimming down over the summer will likely turn out to have been comically optimistic.

Sure, exceptionally motivated kids can use the long break to recreate their physiques, but not that many go for it, and this year has really put a lid on opportunities to use any facilities, whether publicly or commercially owned. In that respect, the early start made Summer 2020 worse than most. Not discouraged yet? There is, as Childhood Obesity News discussed, more, namely a comparable backward creep in the book-learning department.

School is only part of the pandemic’s cascade of consequences, but it is a very big part for young people and their parents. Now, add the awful affinity that COVID-19 and obesity share. They aid and abet one another like long-time cellmates who spent years plotting the perfect bank heist, and now are free to carry it out. Everything about the present crisis is worse for overweight and obese kids, and indeed for persons of any age with food-related issues. Or medical problems. Or mental health vulnerabilities.

Lately, every day brings some new horrifying headline. Yesterday, for instance: “More than 97,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks of July, report says,” and they’re talking about the United States of America. Also, every day more schools are reopening.

Snitches get stitches

At a May meeting of Georgia’s Paulding County School District, board chair Jeff Fuller told listeners that COVID-19 would not affect students, and deprecated the Centers for Disease Control guidelines as “hype” and “complete crap.” Not surprisingly, the iconic story that currently captures media attention is playing out at North Paulding High School (NPHS).

On the first day back, a female student took a picture of the claustrophobically crowded hallway, where masks were worn by 10% or less of the students, and published that photo on social media. She was suspended from school, and other aspiring whistleblowers were warned that such behavior would not be tolerated. The administration announced over the PA system that any further exposure would be answered with “consequences.” Blabbermouth students were threatened with suspension, and teachers with bad marks in their employee files.

A teacher anonymously posted confirmation that other schools in the district looked the same, did no screening, and made not the feeblest effort to stagger the students’ arrival times. A school nurse resigned. An administrator proclaimed masking to be a personal choice that the district had no way of influencing. Online commentators snorted in derision, noting that schools seem quite able to police skirt length, t-shirt slogans and artwork, and even the very personal matter of student hairstyles.

Seven NPHS students and two staff members tested positive for COVID-19, and last week ended with the determination to switch to remote learning for Monday and Tuesday, August 10 and 11. (Relative to our publication date, that’s yesterday and today.) If all goes according to schedule, the next step will be announced this evening.

The good news is, student’s suspension was lifted and will not appear on her record. The bad news is, the prospects for resumption of full-time in-person school, in Georgia or most of the U.S., do not look promising.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “More than 97,000 children tested positive for Covid-19 in the last two weeks of July, report says,”, 08/10/20
Source: “More Headlines from August 07, 2020,”, 08/07/20
Source: “UPDATE: North Paulding High starts week online after COVID cases,”, 08/09/20
Image by Matt Dempsey/CC BY-SA 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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