Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Failing to Protect Schoolchildren From Covid

More from our inbox:

To the Editor:

Re “The School Kids Are Not All Right” (editorial, Aug. 22):

Thank you for detailing the many ways in which our state and local political leaders have failed to protect our school kids as fully as possible during the pandemic. As an educator (of college students), a mom and a grandma, I’ve long been appalled to see the underinvestment in the safety of students in classrooms as well as in the educational integrity of online alternatives to the classroom.

And now, with so many governors and state legislatures turning mask mandates into a political football, the situation has only gotten worse, especially since the Delta variant of Covid-19 seems to be more deleterious for children than older strains.

It was bad enough when Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick of Texas announced last year that those of us over 70 should be willing to sacrifice our personal safety for the good of the economy. Being willing to sacrifice the health of our children is much, much worse.

Glenna Matthews
Laguna Beach, Calif.

To the Editor:

As a family physician serving an immigrant community, I have seen the negative impact of online learning on my patients. However, most of “my” families did not send their children back to school when they reopened last spring, and many are not sending them in September.

The parents recognize the challenges their children are facing, but they have also lost family members and community leaders to Covid-19. I hear many families tell me that their children are not returning to schools until the children are vaccinated. In the past few weeks as the Delta variant surged, I’ve had many parents ask my advice as they struggle to balance the educational risks of continuing remote learning against the health risks of in-person learning.

Those at most risk of the negative educational consequences of Covid-19 are often those most at risk of infection and death. Yes, we need to safely reopen schools. However, to do that, we need to vaccinate everyone who is eligible, mask up and continue social distancing practices. Only when we truly have this pandemic under control will many of these highest risk families feel comfortable returning to in-person learning.

Robin Councilman

Dying for a Mistake Once Again

To the Editor:

Re “U.S. Troops Among Dozens Dead in Blasts as Biden Vows, ‘We Will Hunt You Down’” (front page, Aug. 27):

In his now famous testimony to Congress in April 1971, John Kerry rhetorically asked one of the most important questions in American history: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Though at the time he was referring to the quagmire in Vietnam, his words speak to a bigger truth about the burden we place on those we ask to enter harm’s way.

From the beginning, American intervention in Afghanistan has been one of the most costly and dangerous mistakes in our history — both financially and when measured in human lives. Now, as President Biden tries admirably to bring this horrific chapter of our foreign policy to an end, more families have been torn apart by violence, more American service members have been asked to die for a mistake. When will enough be enough?

If we take anything away from this awful situation, I hope it’s a lesson on how the concept of war is becoming less relevant to our modern world. I hope we realize that solutions to problems on a global scale are no longer found in expressions of military might but, rather, diplomacy. If we want to make Mr. Kerry’s question part of our past, our hawkish nature must resolve to turn our swords back into plowshares for the good of all people.

Gabe Downey
Southfield, Mich.

Black Homeowners in Brooklyn

To the Editor:

Re “What Gentrification Means for Black Homeowners” (Real Estate, Aug. 17):

As a Black homeowner who recently bought a Fort Greene, Brooklyn, townhouse from a Black family, I can attest that this type of transfer is becoming increasingly rare.

Our respective brokers — also Black — suggested we all take a photo together to mark the transfer of the keys. Regardless of the emotional complexities and messiness often accompanying a home sale, we all genuinely smiled for that photo.

I know that we made the highest offer for the house. I also know that the sellers felt a great sense of relief in doing their part to maintain the strong and proud legacy of Black homeownership in Brooklyn. And when we sell our current home, I sincerely hope that we are able to do the same.

Rachel Germany

Cotton Tote Bags and the Planet

To the Editor:

Re “Take This Free Cotton Tote Bag. Please?” (Styles, Aug. 26):

Of all the environmental problems our world faces, I am not sure that the use of cotton tote bags is at the top of my list. Nevertheless, I learned back in the early 1990s that cotton reusable bags were not the best for reuse. These tote bags are heavy and stain easily.

I switched to plastic bags made of recycled plastic bottles back in the 1990s and have used them ever since. These bags are easily cleaned with a sponge, no throwing in the washing machine.

While I do have a few cotton bags from conferences attended a long time ago, I find uses for them around the house and enjoy looking at them sometimes (a favorite is from a solar energy conference in Santa Fe in the ’80s).

The recycled plastic bags from some environmental and wildlife groups are my favorites. These are very pricey, but if you are donating to the organization anyway, the bags are worth it. The look on a child’s face when he or she sees a penguin or an elephant is worth it.

Joan Kark
Pearisburg, Va.

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