Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Aug. 15 letters to the editor

Familiar anti-immigrant talk reappearing

My great-grandparents fled the oppression of Jewish people in Czarist Russia, arriving in the United States, some not entirely legally, between 1886 and 1903. My father’s grandparents each came with eight children. Those who stayed behind in their town in present-day Poland were slaughtered in the death camps early in the 1940s. My cousins and I are now established throughout the United States.

I am grateful to our country for giving my family refuge and willing to pass that on to another generation from another part of the world. I’m sure there were people early in the last century who used the same words, like “invasion” and “tsunami” about my family that Cal Thomas uses to describe people from Central America, and who raised the specter of disease from immigrants — yellow fever years ago and COVID-19 today. In Texas, the spread of disease is being exacerbated by the policies of Gov. Abbott.

I applaud Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley for living out their religious principles by welcoming the stranger and healing the sick. It’s too bad Cal Thomas can’t find compassion for people fleeing to the United States. That he uses their plight to disparage our president and vice-president is disgraceful.

Barry Wendell

Open remote learning for all students this year

Is it legal for Monongalia County Schools  to deny equal access to remote education to  students who don’t take the risk of in-person learning, but allow hundreds of quarantined students to have  remote learning?

Our tax dollars pay for remote school for all children, but our school board will not allow equal access. Last year, all children had access to remote school, whether quarantined or not. This year it is restricted, and students are being denied access. The board is using $300,000 to pay teachers extra  to provide remote lessons. Shouldn’t every child be allowed to have  access to remote education?

I really wanted my child in-person this year, but not under these unsafe conditions. No, WV Virtual School is not an option, because children perform poorly and are not being instructed by real teachers since it is online self-study.

In remote school, the children are taught the same lessons as their classmates. When children transition back to in-person school, they are on track and have developed  healthy relationships with their teachers.

Parents are frightened and not convinced the school board has carried out its duty to provide safe schools. The  board will not follow CDC recommendations to update school ventilation systems, use MERV COVID filters for HVAC, decrease class sizes, quarantine infected vaccinated people and install plexiglass to decrease spread. Yet, our middle school is planning school dances during a pandemic.

Yes, masks can help, but you can’t  eat or play musical instruments while wearing them. Hundreds of students in crowded cafeterias, no masks on and no plexiglass barriers. Our district is filling up classrooms, band rooms, hallways, auditoriums and cafeterias to full capacity and they call this a healthy, safe school environment.

Crowded schools will not permit distancing, but the board said they will distance when “possible.”

When is it not “possible” to distance a child to keep them safe? When unsafe schools are packed to full capacity.

Our children’s health and lives are in jeopardy if we send them into  unsafe environments, and they could get sick or die.

Erica Martin

Walk slowly — don’t run — toward renewables

There are some in West Virginia who believe  we should slow walk away from fossil fuels while embracing renewables — in particular solar energy.

By the 1980s, solar power was readily available to citizens and federal tax legislation gave incentives and tax credits for the installation of solar energy in homes. A 26% federal solar tax credit is available for home solar systems installed by the end of 2022. And 20 states provide a variety of state tax credits. Yet a March 5, 2021, report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration states that solar power represented only 2.3% of electricity generated in the U.S.

Some states produce ample solar power — most don’t. By comparison, the Ft. Martin Longview II 1200 MW plant will generate more power than the solar power generated in 32 individual states. According to 2020 data from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), New Mexico ranked No. 18 with 1,210 MW production while Oregon ranked No. 19 with 1,122 MW production.

Some suggest that solar jobs are the way of the future. According to the May 2021 National Solar Jobs Census provided by SEIA, the solar industry employed 231,474 workers in 2020, a 6.7% drop from 2019 and the lowest level since 2015. And 39% of all solar jobs reside in just three states — California, Florida and Texas — according to SEIA.

Installation and construction employment is the largest segment of the industry, representing 67% of all jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, solar photovoltaic installers had a $46,470 median base pay. Ask your friends in the coal and natural gas industries how that compares with their take-home pay.

While I agree that solar energy may be part of West Virginia’s future, I think we should slow walk that path.

Dennis Poluga

‘Values are apparent during times of stress’

Many Americans look back and realize we made a big mistake when we ignored values in choosing our last president. America’s newspapers have documented the results of governmental corruption, un-scientific decisions, abnormally high death rates from COVID, etc., etc.; and we still don’t know the full extent of intrigue at the highest levels in our government during the Trump years.

Values are apparent during times of stress and individuals who respond without regard to their own safety or health we call “heroes.” We’ve seen many such heroes these past few years in hospitals, in the State Department and among the police defending our Capitol.

Now  the resurgence of Delta-related deaths and hospitalizations test our values once again. As I walk through local stores, I know some heroes from the past are there, but most patrons are shopping without masks. I can’t believe these individuals really don’t understand what danger lurks there.

I’m concerned because the unmasked are breathing and sharing air that is likely carrying the Delta virus. Scientists tell us that, vaccinated or unvaccinated, everyone who is unmasked can carry this new Delta virus home to their families and friends much like Typhoid Mary did. Typhus is no longer a problem today simply because everyone is vaccinated.

We can vaccinate our way out of this COVID Delta pandemic, too. Unfortunately, our youngest children are not eligible to be vaccinated yet, and they will be in elementary schools soon. So we need to be careful for a while longer to slow the spread of COVID by getting everyone to wear a mask. Masking up is but a small inconvenience compared to a child’s death or hospitalization.

Be your neighbors’ (and their children’s) keeper. Be a masked hero. Let’s not look back with regret again for what we should be doing today to keep our children safe.

Bob Shumaker