To the editor: While the Times Editorial Board is correct that education has not been a priority for the state, it should not pit teachers against students and parents. While the current science has found that SARS-CoV-2 transmission in elementary schools is low when community transmission is also low, those findings change in middle and high school.
Another distinction must be made: Science should be our guide to reopenings, but the science so far has not included meaningful studies of the actual conditions under which teachers, staff and children actually work.
What teachers know firsthand is that many classrooms have poor ventilation. Protective equipment and sanitation mean little when air conditioning and ventilation systems are inadequate, when some classrooms have no actual windows for cross ventilation, or when students are crammed into rooms too small for them.
Don't be too quick to judge teachers, many of whom often come down with the flu because of several coughing, sneezing children in poor classroom conditions.
Kathleen Trinity, Acton, Calif.
To the editor: High school football fields and breezy outdoor common areas offer teachers and secondary students a reasonably safe, affordable space to meet in small groups right now. If healthy adolescent development is important in the eyes of policymakers and educators, then they shouldn't wait another day to send these students back to campus.
When tuberculosis plagued this country a century ago, educators moved classrooms outside. It's ironic and unfortunate that adults have dismissed that history lesson. Focused on the one-prong solution of online education, we've overlooked the ways in which the natural world can help reduce disease transmission and adolescent isolation.
Now spring is around the corner. Teachers are getting vaccinated, younger students are prepping their backpacks, and adults are dining on restaurant patios. After nearly a year leashed to laptops, teens are going nowhere fast.
Even if a return to campus means only a few hours outdoors with classmates on school grounds each week, that's healthier than solitary confinement.
Ann Schwede, Hermosa Beach
To the editor: The editorial board finds it "sad" that state, district and union officials are prioritizing health and safety of students and school staff over getting students back onto campus.
Meanwhile, the federal government warns us against rushing to lift the restrictions that have impeded the spread of the coronavirus. Nothing has gone well when we've tried to rush past the facts on the ground.
When schools do reopen, it should be under the safest of conditions possible for all involved, and science would seem to suggest that includes fully vaccinating school staff.
James Riley, Woodland Hills
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.