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Letters: No goodbyes, closure for students or staff; A pandemic seen through a different lens; Delivery persons should wear masks

No goodbyes, closure for students or staff

I write this letter as reality sets in. I am a kindergarten teacher who is faced with heading back to an empty classroom that is frozen in time. Artwork is hanging in the hallways and classrooms, names are on the cubbies, student pictures hang on the wall, and the classroom calendar says March. 

I have the job of gathering my students’ things, so they are ready to be picked up, and then clean up and pack away the classroom. This is the same as other years, except normally I send the students’ things home with them on the last day of school. On the last day we normally read stories and reminisce. As the bell rings, hugs are given then a wave and the words “See you next year.” Our school has a tradition to gather out front and wave to the buses as they drive off.

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None of that will be happening this year. My students will still get their items but there will not be any hugs, or words of “I will miss you” or even “see you next year.” I will not even be there when they pick up their belongings. The reality is hard to face. 

I am not sure if anyone understands how teachers feel. It feels as if our children have been ripped away from us. We have spent the last few weeks wondering how they are all doing; thinking not only about the academic lessons they need, but the social and emotional lessons as well. Are they healthy? Are they safe? Do they have enough food? Do they know how to reach me if they need me? My students may be at home with their family, but they were ripped away from their second family. There will be no goodbyes and no closure for students or staff. 

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So, I sum up this letter with these words for my students. I miss you all very much. I miss your hugs, smiles, giggles and wiggles. I am so proud of you and all the learning you have been doing even though we are apart. I hope you are staying safe and listening to your parents. I do not know when I will physically see you again but know that I love you all!

Amy Sharpnack

Westminster

A pandemic seen through a different lens

The chatter, polarization, mixed messaging that we live with in this country is undeniable. What is presented here is purely food for thought.

Many of us grew up in the Scout era. I know from experience that the Boy Scout mantra was “Be Prepared.” We also grew up in the era where we subscribed to the belief in “American Exceptionalism.“ The United Stated can handle any challenge, better than most, if not the best in the world. Enter 2020.

Consider the following approximations. The US population: 330,000,000. COVID-19 cases: 1.7 million. Deaths: 100,000 in five months of 2020.

Compare that to Taiwan (The People’s Republic of China). The “other” China. Taiwanese population: 24,000,000. COVID-19 cases: 441. Deaths: 7 in five months of 2020.

George W Bush, in 2005, in response to the H5N1, created the first federal preparedness plan to protect American Citizens from a worldwide pandemic threat. We were lucky enough to get through swine flu, 2009, Ebola, 2014.

Fifteen years after this prescient effort to follow the Boy Scout motto, all Americans should look deep into their prejudices and belief patterns and ask this question: How did we fail while the Taiwanese succeeded? Is it because of Taiwanese Exceptionalism?

I really don’t think so. Is it because of their preparation after the SARS scare in 2003? Yes! Is it because of detailed planning? Yes! Is it because of the expectation that a pandemic would come in the future? Yes! Is it because the government acted in unison with the medical authorities? Yes!

You can read more on this amazing success story on your own. But use this writing to pressure our government to follow the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. Don’t blame others. Just do your job!

Granville Hibberd

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New Windsor

Delivery persons should wear masks

I am an 80-year-old resident of Westminster. Yesterday, a UPS truck pulled up in front of our house while I was sitting on my front porch. The driver walked quickly up the walk and handed me a small package. He did not have on a mask or gloves. 

As an at-risk person I was concerned about his lack of protective gear and so I called UPS only to be told that it was their policy to only require protective equipment for drivers who went inside buildings.  With a driver making hundreds of stops per day, that person becomes a potential carrier of the virus to a  large number of people. 

I suggested that UPS rethink their policy. I got nowhere. Has staying safe devolved to staying off one’s front porch? 

Richard Krebs

Westminster

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