I write to you – the kids, teens, and young adults of Brookline – with sincere wishes that you and your families are staying safe and coping as well as possible with our new shared reality. I also write to make an ask of you. It is a request that has likely already been made of you by your parents, guardians, and loved ones. It almost certainly has been reinforced via the many forms of media we all consume.

Please, please, please recognize the danger of the public health crisis unfolding around us. Please, please, please, join us in using the only weapon we have to combat the spread of the Coronavirus – social distancing.

To put it simply, the only way to ensure that we are not contributing to the spread of this virus is to stay away from each other.

A few facts to consider:

1. The virus is extremely contagious.

2. There is no way to tell who among us is infected.

3. Even people who are showing zero signs of sickness can be infected and are a huge risk to pass on the virus to others.

4. While it is true that young people seem to have better outcomes than older people should they become infected, it is also true that young people are equally likely to pass along the virus to others.

5. All of us know and love older people and people who already have health issues like asthma, bronchitis, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, etc. This virus poses an even more serious risk to them. It is absolutely vital that they isolate themselves as much as possible.

I am guessing that most of you, by now, realize that being in a large group of people represents an unacceptable risk. That is why we likely won’t return to school for some time. However, many young people don’t seem to realize that hanging out in small groups or even with just one friend is not harmless. In fact, it also elevates the risk to you and our entire community significantly. I know that your natural instinct when school is out is to see your friends and socialize. Unfortunately, that can’t happen right now. It is too dangerous. Each interaction you have can put your family at risk. For your own safety and the safety of our entire community, and indeed, the world, please do your part by staying away from others.

I hope that you will heed the advice and request I laid out in this letter. The truth is; lately, it has been your generation in the position of leading the rest of us down the just and proper path. You, more than us older folks, seem to intuitively grasp that we are all part of one large community. It is said that times of extreme crisis reveal people’s true nature. If that is true, then I am confident that all of you will demonstrate selflessness, responsibility, and bravery during this trying time.


Paul Epstein

Social Worker, Brookline High School

Co-founder, Brookline Teen Center