“In this difficult moment, we are deeply saddened to confirm the passing of one of our students due to a medical emergency on one of our LEUSD campuses.. . .Our hearts are with the family, friends and our school community.”
– Lake Elsinore Unified School District spokesperson, Melissa Valdez
The death of 12-year-old middle schooler, Yahshua Robinson, while running during gym class at Canyon Lake Middle School in Lake Elsinore last week was devastating to his family, the school and the community.
According to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department report, deputies were called to the school at 11 a.m. Tuesday, August 29. A sheriff’s department’s press release shows Yahshua’s time of death as 12:25 pm.
By around 10:45 am that day the temperature in Lake Elsinore was projected to be at or near 90 degrees, by 12:30 the temperature was expected to soar to 100 degrees and by 2:30 pm temperatures were expected to reach 102 degrees according to an hourly forecast by worldweather.info.com..
Of course, we must withhold judgment regarding Yahshua’s death as the incident remains under investigation. However, early reports state young Yahshua was basically being punished because he had not dressed appropriately for his physical education class and was told by his teacher to run for not doing so.
It certainly begs the question, Why would a teacher instruct a child to run when temperatures were dangerously high?
Although the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes “there is no specific temperature that’s too hot for a baby or child to go outdoors,” it is important to be safe by limiting the amount of time your kids spend outside during the hottest hours.
The AAP also highlights the importance of limiting sun exposure between the hours of 10am and 4pm, when the sun is the strongest and there should also be water and fluids readily available outside for the children’s consumption.
Hourly Forecast for Lake Elsinore 29.08.2023
Parts of San Bernardino County and large swaths Riverside County were at “major risk” of heat impacts on August 29 according to the National Weather Service (NWS) HeatRisk forecast tool recommended by the California Department of Public Health for schools in the state to use for guidance on Sports and Strenuous Activities During Extreme Heat.
According to the department’s Heat Risk Grid guidance for schools, when the HeatRisk level is considered Major, as identified for parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties on August 29, the following is the number one item recommended: “Cancel outdoor activities during the heat of the day (usually 10 am to 5 pm) and move activities to the coolest part of the day.”
It is apparent systems were in place to prevent young Yahshua from running in the dangerous heat. Why did they fail? Why was he instructed to run as punishment when it was so dangerously hot?
Again, we must withhold judgment until the investigation is completed but I do have some concerns because the rules put in place to guide schools seem clear. In addition, as an interesting point of irony, several media outlets have reported, “Robinson’s mother is a gym teacher in another district and she warned school officials of the severe heat on the same day. She told the administration not to let the children go outside for gym class.”
I try to keep my mind stayed on the tragedy and away from “what if” scenarios and remind myself Yahshua death may not be related to the heat. And yet, common sense says regardless of the cause of death, it was still too hot for kids to be outside running that day. I also can’t help but wonder whether unconscious bias may have played a role. A quick look at the staff at Canyon Lake Middle School shows limited, if any, diversity.
I say this because a quote I read made by his aunt, Amarna Plummer, revealed her nephew “was reaching out to the teacher, saying he needed some water. He said he couldn’t breathe.” This is a refrain we hear again and again in the Black community when a Black child or adult is under duress by authority.
The family also claims the teacher ignored young Yahshua’s pleas for help. A hollow silence from authority we are also too familiar with in the Black community.
I hope I am wrong in my assessment but it is for these reasons, we must continue asking why?….and we will keep asking the question.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.