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Letters to the Editor: L.A.'s teachers and school staff have been heroic during the pandemic

LAUSD back in session
Principal Kim D’Aloisio hosts a virtual meeting with staff at Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School in Northridge on Aug. 18.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In the past five months, I have been part of an effort to distribute close to 100,000 new book bundles to students in underserved schools throughout Los Angeles County. Two themes have emerged in this endeavor: There is a great inequity in our educational system, and school staff is committed to their community. (“‘Are we ready?’ LAUSD’s first day back to school, online and on Zoom, is anything but normal,” Aug. 18)

For many students we served, there was no access to books during the school closures last spring and over the summer. As I handed one student a book bundle through his car window, he told me, “This is the first book I’ve held since school closed.”

While he will struggle for quality books, a reliable internet connection and a quiet place for schoolwork, other families will hire private tutors and survive with learning pods.

At every school, I have encountered principals and staff who are overwhelmed, scared and exhausted, and that was before school started. They are also deeply committed to providing quality instruction and a safety net.

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There needs to be some solid recognition of the administrators and staff at schools. They have worked tirelessly since March to diminish the equity divide. I am so impressed and thankful for their efforts.

Rebecca Constantino, Los Angeles

The writer is founder and executive director of the literacy advocacy group Access Books.

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To the editor: Having retired back in December 2018, I do not have to look far back at my 34-year teaching career in the Los Angeles Unified School District. So, I certainly empathize with teachers and students over the unprecedented conditions they will endure.

One thing is for sure: When things return to normal, and they will, it makes me a little sad to think the one place that students will not be excited to visit is the computer lab.

Joe Kevany, Mount Washington

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To the editor: In addition to testing and tracing, another important step to consider for schools reopening is using outdoor learning where and when possible.

In fact, there are excellent resources available to facilitate outdoor schooling. For example, there is the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative. Also, environmental scientist Elizabeth Forys has developed logistics for outdoor learning, which are being used by her school, Eckerd College in Florida, and can be adapted to the local needs of school districts.

I do hope that outdoor learning will be used as much as possible.

Jack Holtzman, San Diego


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