Letters to the editor, August 14, 2021
Stand up for our children
We like to protect our kids.
We watch and warn of hazards, slips and falls. Parenting 101.
When they start school, we pass on some of that job. We need to be confident that they’re safe. The school is charged with monitoring safety and everything is under scrutiny. No asbestos, fences surround playgrounds, watchful monitors, fire drills and no running in the halls.
For the occasional allergy needs, peanut butter is banned, latex balloons forbidden, epipens are ready in the nurses office.
Oh yes, we want our kids safe. We demand that schools are reliable. And they do a good job. If an occasional hazard is noticed, swift and sure action is demanded. Safety is even included in state law. Precedents have been set and people have been held liable.
Now there is a clear and present danger. Covid and the Delta variant is on the rise. Students and staff are at risk. The good news, there is safe reliable protection available. The bad news, our current school board is obstinately ignoring the danger and willing to risk our children's safety. Please stand up for our children and let the school board know we expect our schools to be safe.
Donna Robinson, Rapid City
Please reconsider the policy
As a former teacher and grandparent to a Rapid City elementary student, I am extremely concerned about the district’s “Ready, Set, Start” plan which significantly decreases student protections put in place last fall.
In this new plan, “Masks are not required; however, they are recommended.”
Schools are responsible for the safety and education of the children in their care and have a legal and ethical duty to anticipate foreseeable dangers and to take responsible steps to protect students. Statistics indicate the Delta variant is highly contagious and targets primarily the unvaccinated.
Students under the age of 12 are at high risk because no vaccine is available to provide protection. The best protection schools can and should provide is mandatory masking which is recommended by both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Dallas Texas should serve as a cautionary tale.
They had no mask mandates and currently Dallas has filled every available pediatric ICU bed.
Please reconsider this policy and require masks to more effectively protect students and prevent a significant rise in the number of COVID-19 cases. Is the “freedom” not to wear a mask really more important than the health and safety of Rapid City elementary students?
Nancy Ward, Sun City, Ariz.
Have We Learned Yet?
Once again the U.S. has learned that America can't spread Democracy with an Army and money. The biggest waste of time, is to listen to the Republican blame Democrats and Democrats blame Republicans.
Vietnam cost 168 billion dollars, which equals a trillion today! Afghanistan has cost 2.26 trillion dollars. All of these monies, were taxpayer dollars. In addition, none of this takes into account all of the lives that were lost.
If we ever want to stop this waste, voters need to vote out all of the incumbents, demand term limits, get rid of the lobbyists in Washington, cut the salaries and health care of politicians'; and pray for a better America. The one common thread in both these wars was corruption. Yesterday the President of Afghanistan fled the country; I'm sure with Swiss check book in hand.
Now, Americans can only dream of how the U.S. would have changed, had we spent 3.26 trillion dollars on free college education, bullet trains that criss-cross the country, and free health care. for all. At 80 years of age, I don't believe we have learned our lesson. I can only wait for the next election.
Jesse Villafuerte, Lead
School Board must be better informed
I attended my first RCAS Board meeting on August 9 and was shocked by the misinformation spread by the Board President and other members of the Board. I work in healthcare and the inaccuracies shared were appalling and embarrassing.
Our elected Board members must be better informed!
And informed with real information from the leading experts who have done years of study and scientific research. It’s negligent and lazy for the Board to spread guesses and conjecture. They must not guess about legalities or reasoning behind medical guidance when they don’t know the actual answers. It’s reckless and irresponsible to do so. It’s ok to admit when you aren’t an expert on all topics.
The RCAS Board must create a specific COVID mitigation plan. The Board cannot abandon their responsibility to ensure a safe learning environment for Rapid City’s children. There are many different measures that must be included in any plan. Please reference the measures recommended by the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Medical Association.
Keeping kids physically in school is the ultimate goal for everyone. The RCAS Board must take this goal seriously by being informed with accurate information and creating a COVID plan.
Sarah Hermsen, Rapid City
School Board actions are alarming
I would like to give Rapid City’s new school board members the benefit of the doubt. Few things should be able to bring us together more than a shared desire to do right by our children. Unfortunately, some of the Board’s actions to date have been alarming.
First, the Board just refused to accept grant funds to teach English to immigrant students. No rationale was provided other than avoiding “federal and State ties to our school district.” This purported justification is inconsistent with the fact the State provides over 40% of the district’s funds and the concurrent acceptance of millions in other federal money.
Regarding COVID, we do not know yet whether children who get the Delta variant are at higher risk than with previous strains. We do know that it is far more contagious, so more children will get it. Pediatric hospitals in Florida and Louisiana have recently filled with COVID cases. We also know we will see a surge in cases here post-Rally and as the weather cools.
The Board appears intent on throwing caution to the wind. Not just no masks no matter what – No testing, contact tracing, quarantines, or remote instruction. The only real choice they are offering parents of young children, who won’t be able to get vaccinated until later this year, is this: Quit working and home school, or send your children back to school with no substantive precautions during the most dangerous time for them since the pandemic began. Please, do better.
Kyle Krause, Rapid City
Time to mandate vaccines
It's time that mandatory vaccine requirements be issued for all possible segments of the workforce in South Dakota.
With only slightly over 1/2 of our adult population vaccinated, we have a long way to go in developing "herd immunity" in South Dakota.
The governor has shown a complete failure of leadership in this regard, governor Noem has denied the success of the vaccination programs nationwide and has ignored the valid and proven data showing the scientific support for the nationwide vaccination programs. Instead she has clung to misinformation and supported the trump program, "the big lie."
The failure to accept proven scientific data is truly a disservice to the people of South Dakota, and does cause a significant number of South Dakota deaths. Governor Noem needs to admit her mistakes and lack of knowledge in this regard.
The governor needs to order an executive proclamation to require vaccination in all eligible areas within state jurisdiction, in state jobs and cooperating private employers. In this well yours. And this way we can undo some of the damage that has been caused.
Jack Billion, Sioux Falls
Teach kids not to fight
This school year will be "back to normal" and mask requirements will be dropped for students and visitors. I know there are strong feeling on each side, but can we all agree that political fighting has no place on the playground.
Please talk to your kids and explain that everyone is different and that is OK. Please help them understand that a classmate, with or without a mask, is a classmate. Children are watching and learning from adults and we are not being good examples. Many adult friendships have been ruined because we choose to fight about our few differences. We need to celebrate our commonalities and be a better teammates in the game of life.
Robert Kjerstad, Rapid City