by Kerry Dougherty
Somewhere, my mother is smiling.
The woman who made us sleep at night — summer and winter — with our windows open to fight germs has been vindicated by no less an expert in public health than German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
OK, Merkel isn’t a public health expert, but politicians everywhere seem to think they are, and at least the German leader’s recommendations make sense. (That’s more than we can say about officials in Alexandria, who began mandating outdoor masks today. Idiotic.)
The Guardian reports that as the weather turns colder and folks are driven indoors, the spread of COVID-19 is beginning to accelerate in Germany. Studies show that 90% of cases spread inside. To combat this, Merkel is asking folks to “Lüften,” the age-old German custom of opening windows and letting in fresh air.
But we’re way ahead of her.
Back in March, German native Krys Stefansky wrote a piece urging everyone to do just that.
Germans open their windows in the mornings and evenings to air out their houses. The Guardian reports that it’s a common requirement for renters as a way to prevent foul odors and mold in their apartments.
Air hygiene, they call it.
My mom referred to it simply as “opening the darn windows.”
We went to bed every night with our windows cracked open. Then, first thing each morning, my mother would throw open the bedroom sashes, turning each little chamber into a walk-in refrigerator in winter.
My mom warned that if we failed to conduct a vigorous daily airing of the house and bedclothes, we’d be in the same pitiful shape as the pale kids who lived down the street and whose mother was always “running them to the doctor.”
I didn’t see it that way. In fact, I looked with envy at the vacant desks of my sick classmates, whose mothers kept their houses toasty enough for coughs, fevers and colds to develop.
While I sat at my desk in relentless good health, I envisioned my less-robust friends swaddled in soft blankets on their living room couches, watching “Truth or Consequences” on TV and sipping ginger ale.
It seemed like heaven. Alas, I never experienced it. I now blame Lüften.
Back in 2003, when a nasty flu was ravaging Virginia Beach schools, the principal at St. Gregory the Great kicked it old school: She sent everyone home, turned off the heat and opened the windows.
Guess what? It worked.
Likewise, a teacher quoted in the Guardian piece says she airs out her German classrooms every 20 minutes.
As local kids begin heading back to their schools, perhaps our teachers could do the same.
No way, I was told.
Most of our schools either have windows that don’t open or are permanently locked. For safety reasons.
My mother would not approve. Neither would Angela Merkel.
This column is republished with permission from Kerry: Unemployed & Unedited.