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Letters to the Editor: Why school closures are a ‘ticking time bomb’ for society

A first-grader participates in a class over Zoom on his first day of school in Culver City on Aug. 20.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Can you hear the ticking time bomb? It may be muted, don’t be fooled. It is dangerous. Affecting local communities, the inability to open schools is a secondary result of the pandemic not brought under control by the federal government.

The Los Angeles Unified School District reported that 6,000 fewer children are enrolled in kindergarten this year. While that may seem insignificant given the age and number of children involved, not going to kindergarten means these 6-year-olds will miss that all-important first orientation to school routines, which is essential for future success.

They will not share group activities important for social skills. They will not be introduced to language and math skills.

The impact may not be evident right away, but the lost year cannot be retrieved and will erode these children’s ability to catch up. This lost year will affect them today, 10 years from today and ultimately as adults.

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The time bomb will explode, and the ticking is not happening only in Los Angeles.

Marcy Sheinwold, Laguna Woods

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To the editor: As the director of a preschool that has been open for eight weeks, I am here to tell you we need to bring children 6 years old and younger back to school.

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Our leaders appear not to understand kindergartners’ need for social and emotional development. Why couldn’t we have brought back all the young children to school, socially distanced with masks, and made sure they got what they needed at this important stage of development?

Let children older than 7 do school over Zoom, but not under. At our preschool this is being done, and the children are thriving, the parents can go back to work, and we are all safe. Our teachers are being tested, there are no outside visitors, and families are being safe when their children are away from school.

Debbie Ficarra, La Cañada Flintridge

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To the editor: The academic, emotional and social cost of quarantining hundreds of thousands of elementary school children in Los Angeles County is indefensible. The county has almost three times as many public and private elementary schools (nearly 2,000) as new COVID-19 infections among 5- to 11-year olds (about 730) in the last two weeks.

Perhaps local leaders can explain why the county stubbornly refuses to allow elementary schools to apply for waivers to reopen. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that open schools should be the default choice whenever possible. In L.A. County, we are doing the opposite of what he has recommended.

Dennis Hocevar, Manhattan Beach

The writer is a professor of clinical education at USC.


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