Reviews | The challenges of keeping schools open

For the publisher:

Re “Don’t Close Schools Again” (guest op-ed essay, December 22):

Essay by Dr. Joseph G. Allen fails to recognize a painful reality that will make it nearly impossible for many schools to keep their doors open during an Omicron wave: We don’t have enough subscribers. When teachers are inevitably infected, who will teach during their absence? The shortage of substitute teachers is already forcing teachers to scramble to replace their colleagues when those colleagues or their children need to be quarantined. Teachers often do not have preparation time because they are covering unfilled vacancies.

As educators, we understand the impact that time away from school has on our students’ academic growth and on their mental and physical health. We have spent a good part of the last year trying to repair this damage. Dr. Allen’s adage “Schools should never close” would hold true in an ideal world.

But the sad truth is that if we don’t have enough teachers to teach, our schools will be forced to move to a virtual format. I hope that if and when this happens, society will not blame the schools. No one wants to close schools, especially educators.

Kerry Burke
Madison, Wisconsin.
The writer is a school counselor.

For the publisher:

I agree with Joseph Allen on the damage to children caused by school closures and the critical need for creative strategies to keep children in school and safe during the pandemic. His emphasis on health buildings – the use of ventilation techniques, reorganization of installations and air filtration systems to reduce the spread of microorganisms – illustrates such an innovative approach.

As a pediatrician I focus on healthy children and healthy families. I am sensitive to the intergenerational trauma experienced by the estimated at 175,000 children who have been orphaned or lost a primary caregiver due to Covid, and I am aware that children who contract Covid in school can pass it on to parents, grandparents and others at risk.

Since one of the most effective mitigation strategies to date is masking, I was therefore surprised by Dr. Allen’s recommendation of voluntary masking in schools. I have not seen any studies demonstrating the detrimental effects of masking on the quality of the educational experience of children.

Plus, the test-to-stay policies that Dr. Allen supports only work under masking. Why not implement all the effective strategies to keep kids learning and safe in school: masking, testing to stay, building improvements and most importantly, as Dr Allen said. , the vaccination !

Deborah Moss
The author is Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh and Past President of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

For the publisher:

We all know that keeping schools open is essential for the educational and social growth of children. However, in downtown public schools, protocols are not in place to protect students and staff from Covid.

In New York City elementary schools, many students are still not immunized. Schools are overcrowded, so it’s impossible to stay socially distant. The infrastructure is archaic, with poor air circulation, and classrooms often go uncleaned. Random testing is done only with parental consent, so many children simply never get tested.

We are in the midst of a public health crisis and our schools should remain open, but only if health protocols are respected. So, Dr Allen, I invite you to come into my class, sit next to the unvaccinated students who cannot keep their masks on, and join them as they have their breakfast and lunch at their home. office. And maybe you should get tested after your visit.

Nancy lehman

For the publisher:

Re “Scientists Urge President to Slash Nuclear Arsenal” (press article, December 17):

We congratulate the nearly 700 scientists and engineers whose open letter to President Biden draws public attention to the crucial issue of the administration’s upcoming nuclear posture review. Global nuclear weapons truly threaten the very existence of humanity, but are far too much of an invisible problem.

As good as the letter is, however, it doesn’t go far enough in what it asks the president to do. In early 2017, Joe Biden, then Vice President speaking on behalf of the Obama administration, gave a political discourse on nuclear weapons in which he said: “If we want a world without nuclear weapons, the United States must take the initiative to lead us there.” He added that “as the only country to have used nuclear weapons, we have a great moral responsibility to lead the charge.”

Since then, the threat of nuclear extinction has worsened; the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists reduced the nuclear clock to 100 seconds before midnight, as close as it was during the height of the Cold War. President Biden must lead the charge as he has proposed: initiate negotiations among the nine nuclear-weapon countries to simultaneously eliminate all of their nuclear weapons over the decade under perpetual, enforceable and comprehensive verification protocols .

It will take a monumental diplomatic effort, but we can do it. We need to.

Pierre Metz
Ira Helfand
Mr. Metz, Engineer, is a member of the Massachusetts Peace Action Nuclear Disarmament Working Group. Dr Helfand is the outgoing co-chair of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

For the publisher:

Re “The Free Press Needs Our Help,” by Maria Ressa and Mark Thompson (guest op-ed essay, Sunday Review, December 12):

The best protection we have for capitalism and freedom in America is a free press. Over the past decade, greedy businessmen and investment bankers have taken advantage of the outdated business model of American newspapers, buying them out and draining their equity to invest in other companies.

Ms. Ressa and Mr. Thompson warn us that independent journalism is on the verge of extinction, threatening our freedom to express ideas without retaliation and our ability to stop the growing trend of authoritarianism globally.

Visionary leadership is needed from among the best, brightest and wealthiest in our community to form coalitions of influence to save independent journalism. Ms. Ressa and Mr. Thompson are rightly pushing for their international fund to support public service media globally. Another step here at home is to financially support a newspaper business model as a not-for-profit company, safe from poachers in capital markets, and with missions defined by the public interest.

With so many crises facing us in the world today, ask yourself if any of these threats will ever be understood or resolved without journalists finding out the facts. A free press is our best road map to truth and a common future. Now is the time to heed the warning and act.

Stuart Z. Goldstein
Township of Monroe, New Jersey
The writer has made a career in corporate communications for the financial sector.

For the publisher:

Re “In the early scripts,“ The Music Man ”included a disabled character” (Arts pages, December 15):

I read with interest Meredith Willson’s attempts to write a disabled character in her classic musical. It was not the first time that he sought an inclusive representation.

According to my research, NBC celebrated the opening of its corporate headquarters at Rockefeller Center in 1935 with a live radio broadcast. It featured congratulations broadcast by NBC stations across the country. Mr. Willson, then director of programs for the San Francisco branch, KPO, asked Etta Moten, the black actress and singer who had recently appeared in the films “Gold Diggers of 1933” and “Flying Down to Rio”, to read the message from KPO. Hers was the only female voice – and perhaps the only black voice – played during the festivities. When Ms Moten praised him for his foresight, Mr Willson insisted that he had simply chosen the best person for the job.

It was a gesture that Ms. Moten has never forgotten. Twenty-one years later, although still a few years before Mr. Willson enjoyed his “Music Man” fame, she devoted an episode of her Chicago radio show to him, placing him in his “Hall of Fame.” »Staff alongside Sojourner. Truth, James Weldon Johnson and Leontyne Price.

Catherine karlin
Manhattan, Kan.
The writer, associate professor of English at Kansas State University, is working on a book about Etta Moten.

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