We know the COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet, with the delta variant increasing among our communities. Unfortunately our schools have opened provide in-person learning only.

Are our district schools equipped to follow all COVID protocols? Many districts are struggling to do so, despite claims that they are doing everything to ensure the safety of students and staff.

In the Edison neighborhood, within four days of the school opening, there have been 10 cases of COVID, leading to 34 people in quarantine. The trend is the same elsewhere. Schools and buses are crowded and little social distancing is maintained between children. Additionally, districts are struggling to find drivers for some bus lines, forcing parents to drop off and pick up children.

Add that the school population includes a mix of children who are not old enough for vaccination and older students who are eligible – but may not be vaccinated – and a perfect storm is brewing. When community transmission is high, it allows schools to become potential sites for super spread.

Even parents who understand the benefits of face-to-face learning are afraid to put their children in a place where the risk of infection is high. But, New Jersey districts don’t have a distance learning option this year. Forcing children to be sent to school in person by households with high-risk residents puts these families in a very vulnerable position. Some parents will be forced to choose private home schooling.

Many other states still offer virtual or blended learning.

Giving parents the choice of having children to learn in their neighborhoods from the safety of the home is the best course of action. To act as if the pandemic is over is premature.

Uma Srinivasan, Edison

Maintain virtual access to public meetings

I was happy to read the Star-Ledger editorial from September 20 with the print headline “Virtual Meetings Help Strengthen Democracy.” Do not pull out the plug, NJ “

I am concerned that this access will be lost as many public bodies return to face-to-face meetings. I am convinced that there should be a virtual option for those of us who cannot, for whatever reason, attend in person.

In my case, these are ongoing health hazards due to my severely immunocompromised status. Others may have logistical issues such as transportation or childcare issues, or other types of disabilities. Whatever the nature of the challenge, it is clear to me that a hybrid system of in-person and virtual access is the most democratic. The technology is already available and there are additional issues that can be addressed to make public meetings open to more people.

I support and will work for legislative action to protect the rights of those of us who, like me, will be harmed by a return to a system of exclusively in-person town halls. Expanding access by developing the technology necessary to operate during COVID-19 has been one of the unexpected benefits of this tragic pandemic.

Tina Weishaus, Highland Park

Fear, anxiety accompanies the breakthrough infection

I thank Julie O’Connor for sharing her family experience with a groundbreaking COVID-19 case “(As the virus rages, those unsuccessfully trying to contain it” rage on September 19).

Unfortunately and against all odds, I also had the dubious honor of being “1 in 5,000” to become infected after being fully immunized. For me, the physical medical issues were manageable compared to struggles with anxiety, fear, and looming depression.

More than several times a day, I took my temperature and checked my oxygen saturation levels, and did deep breathing exercises to manage the fear and regain some composure.. Internet research has been read avidly on all aspects of COVID-19. Reports of recovery, short and long term effects, and possible treatments haven’t done much to relieve my stress. I would check for loss of taste or smell by licking a dab of salt or sugar, or trying to smell a coconut scented hand soap. It lasted three weeks.

I tried not to be angry at the thought of possible activities that I participated in that may have been the source of my exposure, although there is no certainty. One of the suspects is an indoor yoga class in which all unmasked participants were reportedly vaccinated. Now I have doubts if this was true.

However, I am thankful that my 81 year old partner, who tested positive like me, remained asymptomatic the entire time. His underlying health issues could have caused a very serious medical problem if he had fallen ill.

When it comes to the unvaccinated, they have a responsibility to themselves and to the rest of us to get vaccinated – either voluntarily or through a government mandate. Quite.

Michael Francaviglia, Maple wood

Fed up with anti-vaccines

To all the anti-vaccines: I had some with you!

By selfishly deciding that they will not get the COVID-19 vaccine, they are ignoring the public health and safety of our citizens and threatening the lives of our children.

They keep our economy captive, preventing a robust recovery. They create additional expenses for their employers when they catch the virus, miss work and are hospitalized. Insurance companies are paying untold amounts of money to recover, if they are lucky.

Unvaccinated people increase the number of hospitalized patients. In some parts of the country, intensive care units are full, medical staff are on the verge of blackouts, and other patients have to travel hundreds of kilometers to find a hospital that can admit them.

This situation is out of control again, and the unvaccinated people are largely to blame! Hang in, pull, and get on with it!

Chris Bulava, Washington (Warren County)

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