The state Department of Education’s plan to allow each teacher to decide when students will wear masks is appalling. Classrooms are indoors and masks should be mandatory.
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto’s July 13 letter to the Hawaii State Teachers Association says that teachers’ discretion over mask wearing will accommodate “instructional methods they are using for curriculum delivery.”
This rationale is baffling, even irresponsible. The methods of curriculum delivery must yield to safety concerns, not the other way around. If there are some exceptions where removing a mask is the only way to deliver the material, then the teachers should seek exemptions, just as for the 6-feet separation.
I will tell my children to wear masks all day at school. Other children stand to gain more from this than my own children will. But I will still do it. We must err on the side of caution, to protect someone else’s child.
The DOE, certainly, should do no less.
Shutdowns should be on case-by-case basis
After the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Kirk Caldwell threatened to close down all bars and gyms. It is unfair to single out these industries just because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers them high risk. Before he closes down any business, he should have the data to support such extreme action.
The mayor should only close down an individual business if contact tracing shows that particular establishment is involved in the transmission of the virus. But a blanket shutdown of an entire industry is not only unfair but irresponsible. Don’t frivolously put people’s livelihoods in jeopardy.
Backslide underscores need for masks, habits
July 7 marked a grim day for all of us in Hawaii. A then-record number of new coronavirus cases in a single day was reported. For all we have sacrificed in order to keep this pandemic from spreading, one thing is clear: We are now failing miserably.
We are at a collective crossroads. The economy is in dire straits and is about to collapse. Businesses need to be open and operating. People need to get employed and working again.
How do we do this? By three simple things that must be mandatory for every one of us: wearing a mask when outside your home or vehicle, staying 6 feet or more from others, and washing your hands often.
Of these three, wearing a mask is the most important. Those who choose not to do so are putting our whole state at risk of financial collapse. We must make wearing masks required when out in public. No excuses, no exceptions. This must be our new normal for much longer than we originally thought.
Fragile paradise requires economic rebalancing
Watching all the coverage about the states that are having a spike in COVID-19 cases is disheartening.
The reasoning from the people not wearing masks is that it infringes on their rights, and that the government is wrong for imposing these mandates to save people.
The European Union was right to ban travel from the U.S., which the U.S. did to Europe at the beginning. But the biggest difference is the “American privilege” mindset that “we don’t have to do anything we don’t want to, because we are Americans,” even when it’s just to be kind and mindful to one another’s well being.
I agree with Melody Heidel that we should somehow, some way, find a balance for our fragile paradise (“State must show it can enforce quarantine,” Star-Advertiser, Letters, June 25). It has been nice to do and go places that have been for decades overrun by tourists. Can’t Hawaii somehow balance our economy so that all the emphasis is not on only one sector?
Effective travel process seen on Alaska trip
I returned from an Alaska fishing trip on July 2. I felt safer traveling from Seattle to Sitka, because Alaska requires visitors to test for the virus within 72 hours before departure to that state.
If the visitor didn’t take the test, the test is given and quarantine is applied. Sitka’s case numbers did not go up since it opened for tourists three weeks before our trip.
The hotel and lodge where we stayed were responsible for monitoring the visitors in quarantine and also kept a daily log book of visitors. This means the state did not have to initially hire employees to monitor quarantine and contact tracing. The state just needed a central agency for visitor reporting and follow up.
Alaska Airlines practiced a social- distancing policy with designated vacant seats. Passengers were required to wear a mask. I applaud the businesses and the state for being proactive to keep their community safe.
I urge you to call on our politicians to establish a national policy regarding travel and lodging to keep the virus cases down in our community.
Reopening legal vacation rentals would help many
As a registered nurse recruited to Oahu in the 1990s, nothing is more disheartening than being unable to help others.
My husband and I own a licensed B&B as our retirement home and supplemental retirement income. Military personnel and locals have sought temporary housing here, often needing safe places to quarantine or wait out PCS (permanent change of station) moves. We’re forced to turn them away as leaders’ unwillingness to reopen homes like ours leaves residents like these in the dark.
This also leaves us with undue financial strain. Our letters to officials have received just one response: “Apply for funding.” As on-site owners, we don’t qualify for this assistance and are left hanging out to dry, like many others here.
Our leadership is doing residents and military members a disservice by refusing to reopen legal vacation rentals and B&Bs. We respectfully ask them to change course before irreparable damage is done.
Instead of pay cuts, turn to cost of rail boondoggle
When discussing the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus, Mayor Kirk Caldwell has said that “everything is on the table.” Why doesn’t that include the rail system, which threatened to bankrupt the city prior to COVID-19 and becomes a larger albatross day by day?
Why are we discussing cuts to teachers and first responders, instead of a boondoggle that will not be functional in the foreseeable future, if ever, and that will benefit relatively few people if it ever does run?
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