Mailbag: Safety should be a priority if and when schools reopen this fall

Deputy Supt. Russel Lee-Sung makes comments during at a ceremony in 2018.
Newport-Mesa Unified School District Deputy Supt. Russel Lee-Sung makes comments during Early College High School modernization project ribbon cutting ceremony in 2018. A reader writes that he believes Lee-Sung will make safety a priority should schools reopen in the fall.
(File Photo)

I have every confidence that Russell Lee-Sung, deputy superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified School District, will place safety at the top of any priority in a return to school. What that looks like and how that is administered is still wisely being formulated and decided.

Why? Because, NMUSD is evaluating and monitoring best practices among other input, in a rational and common sense approach, as opposed to a blanket acceptance that physically returning children to school this fall is impossible. They are rising to the occasion like great Americans can and will do when called upon to do hard things.

So before any more overwrought hand-wringing postulations by the usual gadflies telling the rest of us how to conduct our affairs during this health crisis in this mailbag, I point you to recent articles in the New York Times (May 7), Wall Street Journal (May 14), and Science (July 7).

Those diverse publications discuss the return to school experiments already happening around the globe and what is succeeding and what are less/more important factors in keeping them open and serving the absolute overwhelming importance of kids in school safely versus COVID-19 hysteria and dogma. There are results coming in and more on the way. We can see what is working, manageable and reasonable for primary/secondary kids and staff. Many of these tactics will be co-opted. I encourage the NMUSD system and members to not give in to the “unknown” when the time comes. You’re on the right track.

Brian Ambrose
Newport Coast


Re: “Back to school in Orange County without masks and social distancing? Many call that reckless,” July 15,
my friend and I were at the meeting. We were so taken aback by the aggressive and unsafe behaviors of the pro open-without-masks, etc. group. They were literally getting right up and yelling in people’s faces. Thank goodness the people getting yelled at all had on their masks.

What we learned yesterday is that this group shows up at these meetings really early and set up their chairs (some left after doing that), so that nobody else will be able to get in line to go inside. The 20 people started lining up at 3:30 p.m. When I got there at 4:35 (meeting started at 6), I was quickly told by one of the gals already in line is that the room would be at capacity when the doors opened. That is why the public mostly hears from only one side. The fact that thousands of emails are being sent from the other viewpoint and not publicly shared is appalling. It is also clear that the current O.C. Board of Educations members are choosing not to read the emails they receive.

Cynthia Blackwell
Costa Mesa


It is unsurprising there is a storm of public protest and angry letters against county government and local government in Newport Beach. They have at least two things in common.

First, those bodies are controlled by conservatives who are tone deaf to community needs. Second, they are influenced by Trump loyalists (Supervisor Michelle Steel) and arch conservatives running for higher office (Newport Beach City Councilwoman Diane Dixon) who make challenging health and safety protocols partisan issues. Additionally, the conservative Orange County Board of Education majority added insult to injury by brushing aside the need for face masks and social distancing in our schools.

In contrast, incumbent Democrat opponents (Rep. Harley Rouda and state Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris) have been community champions in advocating safe and sane health practices that include wearing face masks and observing social distancing.

The choice for voters in November will be clear. Do we side with health and science deniers whose political agendas and loyalties would set us back, or do we side with health and safety advocates that would move us forward?

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach


A proponent for masking and social distancing through her actions and published letters, Lynn Lorenz a retired Newport Beach teacher, has no qualms regarding speaking her mind regarding various items as they become current and certainly newsworthy depending on the topics.

Friday’s issue of the Daily Pilot featured L.A. Times popular journalist Steve Lopez expounding on Lynn’s acumen, unflagging drive and just plain gutsy behavior regarding her chosen topic for that particular time period which currently is fighting the pandemic.

Per Lopez’s article, Lorenz has gotten dirty looks from maskless people when out and about and wearing her own mask. It appears that Lynn and I have a few things in common such as both being Democrats, both residing in Newport Beach but most of all trying to do the right thing when it comes to science-proven methods of getting past this bad time in our history by wearing a mask in public.

I’ll be honest, I’m not crazy about wearing a mask because it makes it harder to breathe, but I do it anyway when in public near others. Lorenz must have a great following in the public media, specifically the L.A. Times, because the article in Friday’s issue of the Daily Pilot was also featured, word for word, in last Sunday’s issue of The Times in the California section written by Lopez. I would venture to say that the foundation of Lynn’s and my common denominator is the lack of patience for those who refuse to mask themselves when around other people thereby opening a dangerous door to a potential health nightmare. Lynn would most likely agree with me and the philosophy of that magnificent scholar and thinker, Forrest Gump, who once gave the world “stupid is as stupid does” relating of course to those refusing to wear a mask in public.

Bill Spitalnick
Newport Beach

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