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Talk Mental Health

Dear Editor,

Thank you, Harry Saltzgaver, for "Coronavirus Brings Mental Health Woes," May 14. It was very refreshing to see a newspaper begin to explore the impacts of the lockdown — to those who never will get the virus.

Mental health is a serious issue not only in Long Beach, but in the nation. Many advances have been made in recent years, and mental health illnesses are being recognized more by the health care industry as a whole.

As the lockdown and stay-at-home order continues, I want to remind that in the end, when we can Monday-morning quarterback the Covid-19 emergency and response, I believe we will discover that more people were hurt by the lockdown than were by the virus itself.

Few if any media outlets have been reporting on increased suicides, overdoses, alcohol-related mishaps due to layoffs, domestic violence, child abuse victims, those who perish because they couldn't get a liver transplant, or a new kidney or heart. Hospitals are losing millions of dollars because they cannot perform elective surgeries like transplants. The list goes on and on.

To date the media has been reporting COVID cases and deaths like ESPN scrolls football scores at the bottom of your television screen. Not reporting injuries and deaths caused by the "cure" (the response) — to people who never contract C19 — is like reporting the score of only one team in a football game.

It's refreshing to see some attention directed to the other side. Good, balanced work.

Keith Jajko

Long Beach

Post Office Heroes

Dear Editor,

Thanks to the Belmont Shore Post Office and its dedicated staff for being there for us all day, six days a week, throughout the COVID-19 crisis!

For those of us who have P.O. Boxes, and are in and out of the Belmont Shore Post Office nearly every day, its service to the community is astounding. With a stream of folks in and out throughout the day, mailing care packages, important letters, bills and payments, picking up parcels, and vital documents (while doing their best to maintain a six-foot distance from others).

The long-term staff remain uncomplaining and helpful. We know best unofficial Postmaster Larry — who often sorts mail for the boxes, and cheerfully greets us through our open box door. A friend who picked up mail for us when we were out of town was amazed and thrilled to be greeted by a “talking mail box” (i.e. Larry).

And we must also thank our home and business mail carriers — dutifully delivering medications, USPS packages, Amazon and other items, and Yes! our upcoming election information and ballots.

You’re essential!

Melinda Cotton

Belmont Shore

In It Together

Dear Editor,

I read with interest all the exhortations for reopening the economy despite the risk, citing low COVID-19 infection rates. Isn’t it clear that those low numbers result from the quarantine?

What we should be fearing is a premature re-opening that lifts those numbers back into the danger zone, possibly even beyond further control. We cannot risk getting this wrong.

Apart from that, as we all must, I have been trying to envision how our future is going to look once we get to the other side of our current crisis. That future will no doubt be different for everyone, but there is one aspect of our present situation that I hope will continue as we move forward.

That “benefit” is an apparent rekindling of our realization that we are all interconnected by our habitation of this planet. The idea that “we are all in this together” has never been more true, and I hope we will be able to continue this connection once we are out of these particular woods.

I grew up in a small Midwestern town where everyone pretty much knew everyone else, but when I landed in Long Beach in 1979 I was taken by the fact that when I would say “Hello” to a stranger on the street I would usually be completely ignored. I came to understand why this was, because you never knew who was going to hit on you for what, but it still bothered me.

Now, however, most of those to whom I say something like “Keep taking care of yourself” respond with at least a Thank You and a similar comment as we do seem to understand the situation facing us all. This greater appreciation for our fellow humans — especially those often overlooked folks in the healthcare and food industries — is the lasting legacy I hope will linger on long after the virus is gone.

Because we truly are all in this together.

John Zimmermann

Belmont Heights

Don't Open Schools

Dear Editor,

Councilwoman Price, your impassioned plea to reopen LBUSD schools reminds each of us of the strain COVID-19 has placed on every single person. You are struggling to make the best of a horrible situation.

However, more Californians have already died from COVID-19 than were murdered on 9/11, and since the projected death toll for California has tripled since the Stay at Home order, models are clearly inadequate.

The burden is on you and the rest of our leaders to convince us that you can realistically provide for the safety of our families. Your article has no concrete steps to provide that safety, and many of us will continue at-home learning until we hear otherwise.

A tragedy has occurred to one of my children's classmates, yet your article reads like a tired parent trying to use her influence to improve her personal situation. Your constituents expect you to put their needs above your own.

Sloane Wiktorowicz, Ph.D.

Long Beach

Need Schools Open

Dear Editor,

Council member Suzie Price should be applauded for her well-thought-out article on why children need to go back to school in the fall.

My wife and I have been teaching for a long time, and yet we have shared some of the issues of home schooling articulated by Ms. Price. I can only imagine how hard it must be on the majority of parents who have no teaching background facing the daunting prospect of months more home schooling, as well dealing with the other issues raised by Ms. Price.

The argument over how to safely reopen schools will rage all summer (and powerful educational institutions are already clashing, rest assured) but their starting point should at least be that schools will open in some form.

Perhaps there will be a portion of the school week, or some teachers assigned, to do online learning for parents who cannot, or do not want to send their children to school. But for those districts reticent about opening their doors at all, I hope a copy of Ms. Price's article finds its way into their superintendents' mailboxes.

Troy Garrett

Long Beach

Kids Need Schools

Dear Editor,

I am a parent with three children in LBUSD, a fifth grader, a sixth grader and a freshman in high school. A parent survey recently came home asking about the Home Learning Opportunities (HLO) we have been experiencing and what we would like to see for next year.  

We weren’t asked if we wanted our kids to go back full-time; we were only offered two hybrid learning solutions (some school, some online), which leads us to believe you have already made up your minds. I understand these are tough decisions to make, but we would like to respectfully ask you to consider all options.

According to your proposals, half of the kids would be at school (every other day or for a half day all week). Half of the kids at a time is still a huge number at many school sites, which won’t solve any of the perceived problems. Furthermore, requiring physical distancing and wearing masks at school are challenging goals. We believe our teachers should be able to teach without having to monitor physical distance and mask wearing.

Understandably, there are parents who are afraid to send their kids back to school.  I don’t believe that half of the kids on campus is a “safe” solution for these parents. These families should be offered a full-time home school option until they are comfortable returning to school. And maybe the teachers who are concerned about going back could have the option to teach/manage these homeschool families.  

But for the rest of us, let us send our kids back to school. We understand they may get sick. We are not afraid of them working cooperatively with their peers and having lunch together in the quad. We want them to be able to play the sports and music that bring them such confidence and joy. 

It is their right to have a free and public education and I would argue that many of our kids are safer at school — where they can be safe while their parents work to keep a roof over their heads, where they can get a meal so they don’t have to go hungry, where a teacher can notice and report child abuse and domestic violence.  All of our kids are safer at school in some way: academically, physically, socially and emotionally.

Governor Newsom has given you the choice to decide how our kids go back to school. I’m urging you to let our kids go back to school full-time just as they did before (sneezing in their elbows and washing their hands often).

 to send their children to school. But for those districts reticent about opening their doors at all, I hope a copy of Ms. Price's article finds its way into their superintendents' mailboxes.

Staci Johnson

Back To School Long Beach

Full-Time Classes

Dear Editor,

I believe Long Beach schools should open and students should be back in the classroom full time this fall. 

I am a mother of three; two of whom are in elementary school (TK and first grade) and we have quickly learned that there is no substitution from an educational or development standpoint for children being together with their fellow students and teachers on a regular basis. While “distance learning” may have been an appropriate gap solution to deal with coronavirus-caused shutdowns, it is by no means a sustainable practice for educating children.  

While my husband and I do feel our children have maintained the academic level that they left with in March, we are concerned that the lack of a brick and mortar school setting will cause a decline in their motivation and love of learning.

We are also concerned with the lack of socialization involved with learning at home. Because our children are so young, they need to be at school with their teachers and peers. This is not only necessary for their academics, but also for fostering healthy social/emotional relationships outside of the home. 

As the primary home schooling parent, teaching my children the actual curriculum has not been difficult and luckily for me, I am a former first and second grade teacher. However, my husband I have chosen to send our children to public school for all of the reasons stated above and feel very strongly that our children will still be safe at school even during the pandemic.

My husband and I have not been cavalier about the current situation and have done our part to help flatten the curve. We have been working from home, home schooling our children, and have stayed away from friends and family. 

We recognize there are risks involved with every aspect of growing up, but that the more we learn about the virus, the more it has become clear that young people are much less vulnerable to its effects. We are fully supportive of those who want to keep their children home from school and we absolutely know the health and safety of children, teachers, and community will remain the number one priority. 

However, we feel very comfortable with sending our children back to school full time as school was — no social distancing and no masks with extracurricular activities and recess.

Kimberly O'Shea

Back To School Long Beach

Save Electives

Dear Editor,

My name is Jodi and I have a freshman and soon-to-be senior at Wilson High. 

The musical theatre program at Wilson is in serious danger of extinction. My son was featured in the Grunion for doing a video of his Shrek performance that was cancelled. 

He has been in musical theatre since first grade. He took a college class over summer just to free up a period to take this class. As you know, his performance was cancelled. 

Now we are being told that incoming seniors won’t be able to take an elective “outside their pathway or maybe at all.”

These kids’ mental heath is being affected by being locked up and everything taken away, sports, electives — and will affect their ability to get into college. ACT and SAT are being cancelled and so are extracurriculars. 

I am hoping we can educate people about all of this and at least have a voice. I am trying to teach my kids that you just don’t sit back and complain, you get your voice out there. Thank you so much!

Jodi Castano

Long Beach


Keep Us Safe

Dear Editor,

Regarding “Accept The Risk,” I wasn’t planning on responding to this incredibly illogical thinking. Whit may be a reasonable guy, but does he really think that simply because his family has lived in Long Beach for many generations that he has some special insight into the current medical crisis.

Our terrific mayor and his team has worked tirelessly with the Los Angeles County and California experts in keeping us safe. That is how we have been able to achieve our very good record of safety.

There isn’t some magical shield protecting Long Beach. I will wait for the people who are responsible for keeping us safe to recommend our future actions.

Bernard Harrington

Long Beach

Spend Wisely

Dear Editor,

Regarding the article in the May 21 edition titled “COVID-19-Caused Deficit Likely $25-$40 Million.”

I believe the elected officials and the city manager and his team should be focused on spending taxpayers’ dollars in the most efficient manner possible The taxpayer works hard to be able to pay those taxes and deserves to have them spent with care.

I was disturbed to read in the referenced article that our city manager and his team have as their first priority, “…maintaining full-time staff and look to part-time hours to make cuts.”

The amount of unemployment due to COVID-19 is sad and disturbing. I too do not look forward to seeing more job losses for our city employees.

However, the city manager’s team should have as its priority, the husbanding of taxpayers’ dollars. Each tax dollar should be used in the most effective manner, not preserve the number of employees.

George Padgett

Long Beach

Repeating History

Dear Editor,

COVID-19 — An unknown viral attack on our country. Our families and friends lives are a huge concern. This has never happened before!

Wait — Let’s rewind. History does repeat itself. Yes an unknown virus has attacked us before. Who has the key to unlock the box that holds a well-thought-out educated plan for an unknown viral attack on our country?

Creating chaos — Is that the plan? Being safe, respecting everyone’s safety is a must. The extreme of closing down our city, people’s income, children’s education was that really necessary?

One thing that we will never hear is, “Oops, our mistake!” The people of Long Beach are not back to work. Long Beach is still not open for business.

Street sweeping starts this week. Let’s all drive around single file! I guess the city needs money.

Mary Jane Ruggles

Long Beach

Trim Trees

Dear Editor,

So much for balanced tree trimming policies in Long Beach. On the one hand the wrong trees are being trimmed or they are trimmed too much, too often.

In our case, the trimming schedule is being extended from two years to six years.

The trees are so dense in our situation, and in need of trimming, that some third and fourth level units in our condo building are unable to see anything out of their windows except for solid foliage. Some units are so dark that excessive interior lighting is needed, resulting in higher electric bills.

Repeated appeals to the city for returning to the two year trimming cycle in place when we moved here have been ignored. We are told that either we accept the policy, pay for special trimming (more than $250/tree with two required for our unit), or agree to have the trees removed.

It is understandable that ficus trees grow denser and roots can damage sidewalks and curbs, but until that starts happening we are reluctant to see healthy trees cut down. It does not seem fair to be blackmailed to pay for trimming or see trees demolished.

As senior citizens in our late 70s and 80s, being vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus, we are doing our best to obey the "stay at home" order. That is depressing enough, but being unable to see much of the world outside our own windows just adds more depression.

Ongoing appeals the past several years, to Pubic Works, our First District Councilwoman, and the mayor have gone unheeded. We are told to live with the policy or pay for special trimming.

Don Darnauer




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