As the public and school boards debate what model schools should use to reopen in the fall, they would do right by teachers, students and communities to seriously consider the July 5 article “U out to pinpoint hot spots for virus.” Through the University of Minnesota’s simulations of airflow in certain spaces, engineers found problematic issues with small classroom spaces, where the position of ventilation sources created “hot spots” for an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission.
While a U researcher suggests the data can be used to reorient classrooms to move teachers and students to low-risk spots in a room, how will school districts accurately map out such individualized airflow patterns in classrooms that vary in size and ventilation quality? Citing research from Portland State University, classrooms that typically seat 48 people were found to only accommodate six students safely. Many classrooms in the middle school where I teach are about 600 square feet and typically hold between 25 and 36 students. Using the classroom size in the Portland research as a guide, only about three or four students could be relatively safe in my classroom.
While the article suggests solutions such as installing higher-quality filters or portable air purifiers, these options seem impractical given budget-strapped districts and the time shortage to plan for such alterations. The low-tech option of opening windows to add ventilation also seems improbable once our Minnesota winter arrives. While mask-wearing could decrease exposure to virus droplets by 75%, that assumes the collective cooperation of school staff, students and families. Sending students back to school may be our best-intentioned impulse, but the nationwide reopening outbreaks of the last few weeks and the U of M’s research should serve as a cautionary tale for us all.
Jodi Anderson-Wolhaupter, Brooklyn Park
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After attending my freshman year at my local brick-and-mortar school, I felt completely overwhelmed by the social pressures and constantly exhausted by a jampacked schedule. The extra stress that came with being in that environment impacted my focus on education. I struggled with mental health and my anxiety became worse while at school.
It was clear that the traditional school setting was not the best fit for me. The following year, I chose to enroll at Minnesota Virtual Academy. By switching to online school and finally learning in a setting where I felt comfortable, I could focus on academics and my mental health.
Traditional school is not for everyone, and that’s OK. Sometimes taking a step back from the typical path can lead you to live the best life for yourself. For families considering alternatives to returning to a physical classroom this fall, I suggest giving online school a chance. It provides a safe learning environment where you can focus on your classes and preserve your health.
Amy Drummond, St. Paul
Expect suppression. In any case, the Senate is the bigger prize.
The July 5 editorial (“Mail-in voting can keep us all safer”) was excellent; however, there was no mention of extreme difficulty making voting by mail happen.
There will be even greater attempt at voter suppression than was used in 2016. Republican states will never allow it.
There will surely be fewer polling places, similar to what Milwaukee did this year.
I believe that changing the Senate is more important than getting rid of President Donald Trump.
James Dollar, Lake City
STATE GOP LAWYERING
Strategy in abortion case exemplifies the word ‘wrong’
Once again, the Republicans are denying the will of the people. I read with outrage about the latest attempt by the Minnesota Senate GOP to work around the voters by hiring a private firm to defend a state law instead of the attorney general we elected to do that (“GOP leaps into abortion-law case,” July 5). And to use a special-interest group to pay for it! Wow. That is wrong on multiple levels. One more reason to vote them out in November. Truly — good riddance.
Becci Dawson Cox, Stillwater
PATRIOTISM AND THE NFL
My country, right or wrong — many, like me, still feel that way
Interesting article by Dane Smith (“Toward a better patriotism,” Opinion Exchange, July 4), but he is wrong on a number of counts.
“My country, right or wrong” — remember that saying? Well, a lot of people still feel that way, and I am one of them.
My country, like me, is not perfect, but that does not mean I should hate it. My country, like me, has a past, but that does not mean I should be ashamed of it. It’s still my country, and I am proud of it. A number of people from around the world must think so, too, or why would they come here? (The one thing I don’t understand about the people who immigrate here is that they try to change this country to resemble the one they are running from.)
The other thing Smith misses the mark on is football and Colin Kaepernick. I don’t care where Kaepernick got the idea to kneel. I myself do not follow sports — none of them. I don’t care who plays or wins, but from what I’ve read, it seems Kaepernick was a passable player at best.
Mr. Smith, I hope you realize we are watching the death rattle of professional football. The NFL, by trying to please everybody, ends up pleasing nobody. People watch football to escape everyday annoyances. Now, of course, they can no longer do that. The football field is not the place for political statements — it’s not what you are being paid for. Give the people in the stands a break. If not, they will walk away.
Edward McHugh, East Bethel
Don’t take that plunge into slipshod grammar
I am writing in reference to the July 4 article “Pining for travel, they shift to home study.” The summary of the article says: “When the coronavirus halted summer trips, Minnesotans dove into learning new languages.”
I have to take issue with her use of the word “dove.” The past tense of the verb “dive” is “dived.” As a former English teacher for 34 years, I feel this needed to be brought to the Star Tribune’s attention. I used to tell my middle-school students that “dove” refers to a bird that flies through the air. That’s all. Some of my former students still remember it and bring it to my attention. “Dove” has become accepted, but it is not proper grammar.
Brent S. Amundson, Moorhead, Minn.