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Letters: Investigate before criticizing teachers during coronavirus pandemic; and more from readers | READER COMMENTARY

Howard teachers deserve to not be put at risk

I strongly disagree with Ruth Taylor’s assertions (“Open schools or share savings with taxpayers,” July 30) that teachers don’t deserve their pay, their health, that they’re doing “half a job” and that school board choices aren’t about safety.

Ms. Taylor doesn’t list any credentials so I’ll take the liberty to assume that she prefers to be a Monday morning quarterback when she criticizes teachers and those who make health care decisions for our community.

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It would be wise to consider that COVID-19 and our knowledge about how it’s contracted, infects and is transmitted is an ever-changing issue. No one can say for sure when or if it may mutate and infect a new age group. Is it fair to say that we should put our children at risk or our teachers or their families?

Consider the devastating domino effect that one child or one adult testing positive in a classroom can have on a whole school. You could draw a picture of classrooms in a school, the movement throughout the building during the day, meals, and transportation to and from, to perhaps get a better view of contact concerns and how every family of every child and every school employee is impacted, Ms. Taylor. This is absolutely a safety concern. When was the last time you were in a school?

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If you have no family members or friends with health care concerns, you may assume that people under a certain age “may get sick … and will get better.” I think it’s a limited view, and frankly a sad realization that you’re ready to give up teachers with the assumption they’ll get over the virus. These are people we are talking about, so numbers are not valid. The news has stories of people who have died and those that have survived with lifelong health issues. Would you give up your family and friends?

Half salary for half a job: You have no idea what teachers have done to change how they teach to accommodate their students and engage them. They spend hours learning, researching and writing lessons to reach each child. They want to return to what they signed up for. Teaching is a people job, and they’ve been robbed.

This is so much more than a money issue. Investigate before criticizing.

Marcia Hill

Ellicott City

Flier building is part of Columbia’s past

County Executive Calvin Ball announced recently that the Columbia Flier building on Little Patuxent Parkway is to be sold with the intention that it be demolished and the site redeveloped. He mentioned correctly that it is a signature building not only because it is a fine example of modern architecture but is the former home of our Columbia Flier newspaper for which it was custom designed by a local architect.

Like the former headquarters of The Rouse Company, gutted and repurposed for Whole Foods, this building is part of Columbia’s founding developer’s legacy. Together with the Teachers Building, the American City Building (now gone) and the Corporate Center, office buildings along Little Patuxent Parkway overlooking Symphony Woods demonstrate Rouse’s vision for a green and verdant downtown. Little is left of our once thriving lakefront; instead we have suffered whole sale demolition and so far nothing to show for it. No wonder that Clyde’s, a Columbia “institution,” decided to leave!

We have witnessed too much demolition. It is contrary to the latest thinking that the renovation and repurposing of existing buildings is of paramount importance in the quest for reducing the developed world’s carbon footprint. The economics suggesting demolition followed by redevelopment is cheaper than renovation must no longer be the deciding factor. The Flier building is a landmark and part of Columbia’s identity and should be preserved for future generations.

Jervis Dorton

Columbia

Redevelopment plan needs to be in place

The Columbia Association has started a “visioning process” about what Columbia will be like 20 years from now. At the same time, we have seen the county contemplating what to do with the Columbia Flier building.

Currently, Columbia lacks a coherent “redevelopment process” for the whole of Columbia. Columbia buildings are pulled down, uses changed, design guidelines ignored, covenants not consistently enforced and final development plans interpreted to benefit the developer.

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Right next door to the Flier building on Little Patuxent Parkway, we now have a strip mall. On Broken Land Parkway, there’s another strip mall proposed and on Snowden River Parkway a mega gas station and car wash. Ignoring the Columbia regulations, which were established to prevent haphazard development, is adding to the deterioration of our village centers.

I have opposed this type of development on our parkways, but my arguments have never been heard. I am prevented from presenting my case even though:

  • My business is in the same industrial park as the mega gas station;
  • It’s covered by covenants and design guidelines;
  • It’s in the same final development plan; and
  • It’s less that a quarter-mile away from the proposed development.

On top of this, I have been in business in Columbia for 42 years and lived here for 48.

If my voice can’t be heard whose can? One easy answer: only the developers.

Before we pull down the Flier building, we need a redevelopment process that safeguards what made Columbia great in the first place and ensures that any new vision developed by the Columbia Association will be implemented.

Brian England

Columbia

Online learning can open process to parents

A significant potential upside to the decision by the Howard County Board of Education to have only virtual classes until next February is that it presents an excellent opportunity for parents to virtually “sit in” on classes in order to not only share with their children but also to observe the quality of the presentations and the teachers.

There is, I am sure, a method whereby the HCPSS technology folks can implement the ability for parents to “audit” classes, either on a real-time basis or by being able to view the presentations, which I am sure will have been preserved. This will also give students the opportunity to review classes they might have a greater interest in or that they might have missed because of illness or some other equally valid reason.

Given the ease of using such platforms as YouTube, I assume that the school system can and would make this happen.

Robert Slattery

Columbia

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