Questions abound over D51’s reopening plan

With the new school year fast approaching, as teachers and school personnel, we have many questions with opening in the middle of a pandemic.

Next week, on Tuesday, July 28, the District 51 school board will address the plan for the possibility of reopening schools mid-August and it will be broadcast live to the community.

School staff members and parents are waiting with bated breath as to what will be proposed. As a recent retiree from D51, I was invited to be part of a group of concerned educators who want to ensure safeguards are in place for everyone in the school community prior to schools reopening. The Facebook group of concerned educators is called Allied Educators of Mesa County. There are close to 700 people on this Facebook group. Many news articles posted in this group indicated that a number of districts (in Colorado and other states) are starting the school year with remote learning only.

We understand the enormous task this is for school administrators to address. We realize there are two sides to this discussion — students who thrive more with face-to-face learning and parents who need to get back to work. There is also a concern for students with special education needs.

We, as educators, would love nothing more than to be back in the classroom, teaching our students face to face — if we can be assured that it will be safe for all. We understand that there is another Facebook group pushing for the reopening of schools. We are a “district” team, parents included, that must work together to address the mountain of issues that we are facing with school starting just around the corner.

We know D51 administrators have been working diligently since the pandemic began to address concerns and we greatly appreciate their time and effort to devise a plan that will be both functional and safe for all. Hopefully teachers and school personnel will have a voice at the table and be included in these discussions since we will now be the frontline workers. Ideas that look good on paper frequently are not feasible in the reality of a school day. The stress level of teachers is already high in normal circumstances; with COVID-19 concerns, that stress level has been greatly magnified.

A number of teachers/staff are very concerned that they will not be able to be around their family or grandchildren if they go back to face-to-face teaching due to COVID-19 concerns. There are a number of staff members with health issues — or who have children with health issues — that puts them in the greatest risk category to begin with. How will the district reassure them that all safety measures are in place to protect them?

We, as the Allied Educators of Mesa County, sincerely hope that on July 28 at the school board meeting, that the meeting will be open to questions from D51 staff and the community and that plans will be “discussed” … versus just being stated. We cannot reopen the schools and wait for positive cases to occur before going to plan B, C and D. As a highly regarded school employee stated recently, “One year of remote learning is worth saving even one life.” There is already a nationwide shortage of good teachers. How many teachers will leave the field because of COVID-19 concerns? How many people will change their professions that want to have a teaching career? We cannot afford to lose any more teachers … because of concerns/unanswered questions of contracting COVID-19 or because of getting sick from the virus.

Again, the Allied Educators of Mesa County Group are sincerely grateful for all of the hard work that the superintendent has done over the past five months and we are especially grateful to the school board members who volunteer their time to help with these challenging decisions. We look forward to hearing the plan on July 28.

MARIANN TAIGMAN

Retired D51 occupational therapist,

on behalf of the Allied Educators of Mesa County Facebook group

Grand Junction

Don’t take mask frustration out on hard-working people

I was pleasantly surprised at the grocery store to see patrons abiding by the mask policy. It warmed my heart to see people following Gov. Polis’s directive.

I also know there are individuals who choose not to conform with the mask policy. Whether you wear a mask or not, I know that you have given it great thought and act in a manner you feel is best. I am not here to judge your choice. But remember, while you have a choice to wear a mask or not, our men and women who work in the retail trade industry do not have that same choice. They either wear the mask and remove patrons who choose not to wear masks or run the risk of losing their jobs.

In the grocery store, I asked two workers how people had treated them regarding the new directive. Both said that while they had not encountered problems, other workers had. One worker said even if she saw someone without a mask, she didn’t know if she could ask them to put on a mask or tell the person to leave. She was afraid she would get screamed at or possibly hurt. Another worker said he didn’t want to be harassed – he didn’t sign up for that when he took the job. He worked there because he wanted to provide for his son.

Whether you choose the mask or not, keep in mind there are human beings who are being required to implement directives that may be incongruous with your beliefs. These hard-working people want to provide for themselves and their loved ones. They are men and women who want a work environment free of stress and abuse.

If you choose not to put on a mask, please consider choosing not to go in retail and grocery stores. If you do choose to go without a mask, please react with kindness and respect if you are asked to leave. Whether you wear a mask or don’t, you always have the choice to treat the people in our community with kindness, respect and understanding.

BECKY WINEGARD

Grand Junction

Pendley is uniquely qualified to be the director of the BLM

Once upon a time much of the land in the United States was owned by the government. These federal lands were turned over to state governments or to individuals through homestead acts over the years; EXCEPT here in the West where many states still contain a high percentage of federally owned land. (It’s about 36% in Colorado.)

Acting Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley has pointed out this fact of history. Thus, he has been branded as “against federal ownership of public lands”? If so, why was Mr. Pendley instrumental in challenging attempts by the federal land managers to close public land to the public?

For nearly 20 years, Mr. Pendley dedicated his efforts to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and our free enterprise system. He defended private property rights all the way to the Supreme Court a number of times.

Pendley is called “the face of a fringe movement against federal ownership of public lands.” In 20 years of reading Mr. Pendley’s columns, I read: compensation for “taking” of property; protecting access to use one’s own property; suing to enforce the “intent of Congress” and upholding the Constitution; maintaining public land for public use; and fighting against the importing of Canadian wolves into Wyoming, Idaho and Montana in 1994. All actions were pro-bono.

His broad understanding of public lands and property rights across the United States makes Mr. Pendley uniquely qualified for the position of BLM director.

LOIS DUNN

Grand Junction

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