BRAWLEY — Dr. George Fareed — a family medicine physician with privileges at both Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District and El Centro Regional Medical Center — spoke to the Brawley Elementary School District Board of Trustees Tuesday evening, October 13, about COVID-19 and ways staff can feel safe coming back to work when schools reopen.

Fareed gave the board general information on a low dose, early treatment of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylaxis for COVID-19 that, according to him, is very safe.

“My position now is teachers should know they can be treated, parents should know they can be treated, and they need to be encouraged and given confidence to avoid the fear that we have presented within the past at this stage,” said Fareed.

According to Fareed, there is a new peer reviewed algorithm that shows hydroxychloroquine, when used in early stages, can fight back against the virus. Fareed said zinc and other healthy supplements can also be used to combat the virus by blunting its effect. Fareed said anyone can visit his office for a consultation on the treatment, saying teachers have already visited to him about it.

Fareed suggested the district begin reopening and letting employees know the cocktail is an option to protect against the virus. Fareed suggested encouraging teachers to begin taking the regiment to prevent COVID, saying they respond well to the treatment and from there the parents should be encouraged as well.

He acknowledged the treatment has been labeled as dangerous, but said it is a false label.

However, Brawley Elementary Teachers Association (BETA) President Mary-Ann Moreno disagreed. Moreno said she respected Fareed as a doctor but felt the teachers should not have to take that risk.

“Why am I going to take that risk? Why are my teachers going to take that risk? When we have just gotten into the grove of distance learning and we want to reopen again?” said Moreno, “Do we really take our life for granted like that?”

Moreno said she has already lost two family members to COVID and has been unable to mourn or have a proper service for them. She said it is an experience she would never wish any of the BESD teachers or anyone else to go through.

BESD has lost one staff member to COVID-19, something that Moreno said the district seems to have already forgotten.

California School Employees Association (CSEA) Brawley Chapter President Alejandra Rodarte echoed some of Moreno’s sentiments. Rodarte said there is real fear that employees, including herself, will bring COVID home to their families if they have to return to campus.

“I feel like, as a classified employee, it’s scary,” said Rodarte about going back to campus. “I think it’s something that would be very stressful for myself and for other employees. I have members right now who are scared to come back, or they are already at work and they are stressed all the time because they are scared to take it home.”

Rodarte is concerned that even if the school sites do everything possible to keep employees and students safe, there will still be children who do not follow the rules or households that do not follow the guidelines. Leaving potential for spread despite all safety precautions. Rodarte questioned if there would be enough of Fareed’s cocktail to go around, especially if other Imperial Valley schools reopen.

Both Moreno and Rodarte said BESD would have to meet county requirements and guidelines before the campuses should consider reopening. Even then, the district would have to meet with the staff and labor representatives before considering moving into a hybrid, on-campus learning curriculum, despite what Fareed suggests.

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