Students going into a petri dish

Dear Editor:

What’s a group of students in a classroom called? A petri dish.

For all the happy talk from the B.C. government of “reopening schools safely,” the elephant in the room is class size.

Michael de Adder’s Sept. 4 editorial cartoon shows a teacher telling a student: “I hope you washed your hands. You don’t want to spread germs.” The classroom door is open, with crammed children spilling out into the hallway.

On Sept. 3, Dr. Bonnie Henry said about social distancing: “Two metres is the ideal, we know, for uncontrolled environments, particularly with people we don’t know. But one metre is also good if you’re with the same group of people you know and see regularly, such as work colleagues, classmates.” Henry added: “But if we’re going to be in rows next to each other, then somewhere in between there is perfectly safe.”

What? Henry’s sudden updated guidance is a significant shift from what she has said since the pandemic began.

BC Teachers Federation President Teri Mooring told CBC Radio’s BC Today host Michele Elliot: “Classrooms are just not places where students sit quietly at desks. They’re interactive, active spaces where, you know, learning is interactive between students…. classrooms of today look really different from long ago.” Mooring continued: “Schools … are one of the few spaces where we don’t have those preventive measures in place, and we think they need to be there.”

In a perfect world, class size would be cut by half, with students attending on alternate days; or attending daily, but only mornings or afternoons. For example, a Grade 4-12 class would be limited to 15 students.

Either scenario may not be realistic for many working parents of younger children, since they would need to find care when their child is not at school. Many grandparents are already sitters, but when children return to school, it could put grandparents at greater risk. The government should be funding daycare and creating spaces for these children.

Any teacher who has an underlying condition – or a spouse/partner with an underlying condition (eg. asthma, diabetes) should be allowed to teach online classes only, if that is what they prefer.

In her letter to school families and staff, Moyra Baxter said masks will be required for staff, and middle/secondary students. Not elementary students.

More than half a million children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 – a 16% increase in the last two weeks.

Dr. Jonathan Reiner (George Washington University) said when students return to school, “all bets are off.”

David Buckna, Kelowna

Fluctuating lake level is a problem

Dear Editor:

Peachland has taken the lead in seeking a government re-examination of the Penticton dam control of Okanagan Lake water levels. This is a vital matter that concerns all lakeside communities in the Okanagan, and deserves collaborative pressure for change.

For the last five years, we have seen a control policy that is out of touch with current conditions. This year, in particular, we saw excessive full- pool water flooding dock levels from May through July. After peak, we marked controlled reduction at about one inch per day through late July into August. Many found boat lifts useless or unsecure with “float-offs” because of high water.

Then came a sudden drop in level of approximately six inches daily in late August, into September. The result was a grounding of boats in shallow bay areas, forcing quick removal to trailer or dry dock, and the prospect of winter dry base areas in bays along the shore.

For shoreline boat/dock owners, this limits recreational boating use to weeks rather than months on our beautiful lake.

Climate-warming projections indicate we are increasingly at risk for annual flooding. Yet we still follow outdated protocols where we go from flood to dry bottom in rapid sequence. The multiple, time-worn excuses from those responsible for control of our lake level only add insult to injury. Certainly, if the quality of “management” over the past five years is measured in moderation of the water level it would not receive a passing grade.

Isn’t it time to remedy this situation ?

Ian Royce Sisett, Kelowna

Biden’s running mate isn’t wise

Dear Editor:

I generally look forward to “Wise Words” on the front page. However, I was disappointed on Aug. 28 to see “Wise Words” was nothing but a snarky remark by Kamala Harris.

“Here’s what you have to understand about the nature of a pandemic. It’s relentless. You can’t stop it with a tweet. You can’t create a distraction and hope it will go away.”

These were not wise words. It was just a stupid political dig by an extreme left-wing socialist. Does she really think we stupid citizens do not “understand” the pandemic? It is obvious she was chosen as Biden’s running mate solely on ethnicity and sex. These are very poor criteria. Much better candidates were out there.

Harris has supported such concepts as free health care for all, including illegals, “open” borders, and restrictions of constitutional rights. Democrats’ solutions to funding is, you guessed it, higher income taxes.

Of course, this bunch would also raise taxes on business sky high. They seem to forget that businesses employ people and power the economy. Democrats would gladly throw the United States back to the poor economy and high unemployment of the Obama years. Americans do not need more government in their lives.

Joe Biden has demonstrated he is mentally incapable of serving as president. If elected, the Democrat party would shoo in Harris when he is forced to step down. Biden is but a straw man and will in the meantime would pay off political debts to the socialist crowd. Biden and Harris share one thing in common: Neither has ever accomplished anything noteworthy.

I suggest some online inquiries for readers to learn how Harris got her start in politics. It was not by hard work and honest determination.

President Donald Trump has made good on his campaign promises. He is not a politician and speaks his mind. He has done more for the United States in four years than any president since Ronald Reagan. He is the obvious choice to keep America great.

Bob Sherman, Kelowna