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Letters to the Editor: Politicians say reopen schools now. These teachers say that’s reckless

A transparent shield separates a classroom aide from a kindergartener.
A classroom aide works with a kindergartener at Rio Vista Elementary School in El Monte on Feb. 2.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Yes, children need to be back in school, and yes, teachers should be ready — “with the proper precautions” — to teach them. But should those precautions include vaccination? (“Teachers face pressure to return even before COVID-19 vaccinations completed,” Feb. 4)

Let’s face it: Our nation was totally unprepared to distribute vaccines. If President Franklin D. Roosevelt had told each state to determine how to call up soldiers, we’d still be fighting World War II. The rollout mess must be blamed on the previous presidential administration.

But teachers are stressed about reopening for other reasons too. When COVID-19 first hit, the time given to teachers to prepare for distance learning was minimal. Reopening schools will require ample time to test students just to see where they are in their curriculum, among many other things that must be done. The big worry is how quickly Sacramento will require schools to catch up.

We’re entering uncharted waters here, so let’s all be patient. Reopening schools doesn’t simply involve swinging open campus gates with a smile on our faces. It’s a process that will require a tremendous amount of planning; my guess is three or four weeks worth. Let’s do this right.

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Bobbi Bruesch, Rosemead

The writer is a board member of the Garvey Unified School District and an inductee of the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

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To the editor: Teachers unions want educators to be vaccinated before being required to return to the classroom. The fact that they should be treated as frontline workers is essential.

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Our children are more resilient than older adults, but their mental health and educational needs are equally essential for their future. Can’t there be compromise?

Allow funding for classrooms to be properly ventilated with desks adequately spaced, and have all school employees and students tested before they are admitted back to campus. Teachers and students at highest risk could continue with distance learning. Arrangements can be made for those with exceptional difficulties.

At least most students and teachers could return to school safely as teachers receive their vaccinations.

Marcy Bregman, Agoura Hills

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To the editor: Before various groups make decisions about teachers returning to the classroom, maybe they should consider the lack of scientific evidence to support the safety of such a move.

Anecdotal reports of what seemed to work in other places months ago have little to do with current concerns. Now, there are new, possibly more contagious strains, and the virus is significantly more prevalent than it was at any time before the current surge.

With vaccination so close, why would I want to risk the health and lives of my family? I know that online classes are a very poor substitute for the classroom experience, but I am pretty sure that putting professionals who are already in short supply at greater risk is not a good idea.

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Really, if a family gathering is not OK, how is it fine for me to be in small classroom for an extended time with many kids?

Wendy Hawkins, Northridge

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To the editor: As an educator, I cannot help but be concerned about the mixed messages we are hearing.

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Super Bowl parties at home must not happen, but it is safe for unvaccinated teachers to return to the classroom. Outdoor dining is prohibited one day then allowed the next. There are new strains of the virus that may or may not pose a challenge for vaccination.

How do we make sense of all this? There is no doubt that the lack of in-person education is detrimental to young children. Some experts claim that there are data to show that it is safe for schools to reopen, and other experts disagree.

It would seem obvious that teachers should be at the top of the list to get vaccinations. We absolutely need to get students and their teachers back into the classroom. What is so difficult about making the health of our teachers a priority so that this can safely happen?

Diana Wolff, Rancho Palos Verdes

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To the editor: We praise teachers for being responsible for the education of our doctors, political figures, lawyers, administrators, police, firefighters, healthcare workers and everyone else. However, we do not pay them adequately enough for how important they are.

I taught for 38 years. I put $3,000 into my classroom each year to pay for supplies, field trips and even holiday gifts for students who wouldn’t be getting any otherwise.

So now, because “pressure grows,” we are asking even unvaccinated teachers to risk their lives. Mostly it will be the older, highly dedicated teachers who die.

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That’s how much lip service we as a society give to our educators. That’s what we’re asking of our teachers, to be so dedicated that they may die.

Wendy Averill, Culver City


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