A big kudos to Andover football coach, Tom Develice, for his down-to-earth thoughts and words to his team (“Schools improvise as virus spreads,” front page, Oct. 28). Instead of complaining that they might not get a football season and bemoaning how tough it is for the kids and what they aren’t able to do, the coaches offered intelligent and prudent insight that “sometimes that’s how life is. All your hopes and dreams and goals hit a roadblock and you have to be able to handle adversity.” After hearing that the Andover school district had changed its decision from not allowing any activities to allowing them, Develice emphasized to his players that they need a renewed commitment to staying safe: “We got more time together. We have to continue to be smart.” Give that man a raise!

Kay Rasmusson, Buffalo, Minn.

• • •

My husband and I are lifelong residents of the Spring Lark Park School District. Our siblings, children and now our grandchildren attended this school district.

I appreciate the considerable effort that was made to keep our schools open. I also applaud the school district’s decision to make the change to distance learning when the community’s coronavirus infections increased dramatically.

However, I find myself outraged at the decision to continue contact athletics and other activities. I am a nurse who fought to save lives my entire career. It is irresponsible, amoral and cowardly to put these activities over the health of our community and state.

Many in our community are at high risk for critical illness and/or death. However, we now know that regardless of age or comorbidity, even some of us at low risk will become critically ill or die with this disease. Even those with mild illness and children could develop lifelong consequences. That is a risk I find too high.

I understand the political risks when you take on parents who envision their son or daughter will be the next Michael Jordan, Tom Brady or Lindsay Whalen; however, I believe the vast majority of us are willing to postpone our competitive contact sports to protect health and lives. To do so we must channel our children’s energy to noncontact sports and activities that can be played safely while using proper protection.

To allow contact sports to continue is reckless behavior and will increase the spread of COVID infections placing many at risk and will cost lives.

I ask the school boards and/or the state to reconsider the decision to continue sports that do not allow full use of proper personal protective equipment and distancing.

Linda Hamilton, Fridley

DISTANCE LEARNING

This is not working for our kids

Months ago, I thought it would be best for K-12 students to be in distance learning, or to save in-person learning for those who most needed it. I was hopeful that my seventh grade son could muddle through distance learning.

Now I see clear signs of depression in him. The lack of structure and extremely reduced contact with people outside our family of three would cause anyone to become depressed.

This has led us to look at private schools that are offering in-person classes. My research makes me realize how much I want my son to stay with his public-school teachers, public-school curriculum and public-school classmates. But we can’t ignore how poorly he is doing.

Children’s well-being needs to be given more priority in Minnesota. Other countries have found ways to keep schools open, even as they experience new increases in community spread of COVID.

I would like school districts, the state and Education Minnesota to commit to making pod scheduling, physical distancing, masks and hand-washing work for Minnesota schools. Families who want distance learning should still be able to choose that option.

I’m aware that Minnesota is surrounded by states with uncontrolled spread of COVID and that case counts are rising here, too. But I think we have to look at measures to control virus spread that do not do so much harm to Minnesota children.

Ellen Tveit, St. Paul

• • •

Good letter from last Monday, “Kids can safely go to school” (Oct. 26). We all agree we want schools to open, so let’s focus on how to do it safely. That means we trust the science. That means we don’t leave it up to the teachers to figure it out on their own. That means we need laws or mandates on required behavior to keep each other safe.

Becky Carpenter, Minneapolis

EDUCATION

COVID aside, there’s lots to fix

Finally, an article about education that doesn’t revolve around COVID! Gary Marvin Davison’s editorial counterpoint (“Minneapolis Public Schools need new leadership,” Opinion Exchange, Oct. 27) reminded us that the elephant-in-the-room problem with public education endures.

He claims (correctly, I’m sure) that MPS students suffer from the lack of “a knowledge-intensive, skill-replete education,” as well as “ill-trained teachers and principals.” I’m sure that Davison also knows that this situation exists throughout the country. Our students’ test scores are not acceptable, and thanks to COVID, might well drop even lower, especially those of our minority and poor populations.

This retired teacher has voiced concerns on these pages about the devaluation of knowledge, lack of academic rigor, poorly trained teachers and clueless administrators. I’m frustrated, for example, that despite reports from highly regarded media — American Public Media and PBS — that cite research debunking the “whole language” approach to teaching reading, our states and school districts haven’t returned to phonics instruction.

Now, Davison also wades into the turbulent waters of politics in his piece, and I agree with much of what he says; however, I cringe when I see teachers, as members of a union, implicated by extension in “blocking change.” Let’s lay the blame for failure on those who haven’t had the courage to hold teacher-training institutions, administrators and politicians accountable. Teachers are dedicated, but they need to be unionized in order to maintain decent wages, working conditions and the leverage to fight unfair treatment by district administrators. Period.

Steve Ford, St. Paul

EARLY VOTING

I arrived nervous and left uplifted

Several days ago, my son and I drove separately to Longfellow Park in Minneapolis to vote in person. It was a lovely, sunny day with temperatures in the low 40s. We waited in line about 35 minutes to vote, with everyone cooperating, masked, social distancing and patient. Walking along the line of waiting voters were two young engaging women offering turkey/chicken wraps, an effort sponsored by World Kitchen with several cooperating restaurants. The couple behind us accepted the kind offer and attested to the freshness and tastiness of the unexpected treat. My exchange with every voting official was friendly, helpful and respectful.

As a 91-year-old concerned citizen, I went to vote with a bit of nervousness, but I left with my spirits lifted and the goodness of humanity confirmed.

Ruth Halvorson, Minneapolis

FALL

Melted snow reveals more chores

To quote Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”: “Blow, blow thou winter wind. Thou art not so unkind as man’s ingratitude.”

The snow has melted; now it’s time to rake again. Ugh!

Sharon E. Carlson, Andover

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