Wednesday letters: Masks in schools, wellness checks in schools, Trump’s use of taxes, County lawsuit against AQCC

Adopt a policy requiring mask use in schools

I am writing on behalf of the Colorado Academy of Family Physicians, which represents over 2,600 physicians, residents and medical students in every county in Colorado. As the debate intensifies over how our schools can open safely amidst a deadly pandemic, I felt we need to educate the public about how important it is for everyone who will be in a school building to wear a mask this fall.

While some early messages caused understandable confusion about mask effectiveness, we now have overwhelming evidence that even simple cloth masks dramatically reduce the spread of COVID-19. Masks protect others if the wearer is unknowingly infected with COVID-19, and they may protect the wearer from contracting the disease. Students and their families should also be given guidelines on effective mask use and cleaning, as well as hand washing.

There is also overwhelming evidence that the virus spreads rapidly between people who are inside and nearby to each other – precisely the conditions of an open school. We do acknowledge there are certain circumstances where some teachers, staff and students may be unable to wear a mask, such as for those who are too young or who have a disability or medical condition for which safe mask use is not possible. Face shields or other forms of clear physical barriers might be needed in those cases, and mask policies should make accommodations for these situations.

I, along with the family physicians of Colorado, urge the county health department and school district to adopt a policy requiring mask use in schools. Wearing masks will safeguard our communities and mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

John C. Cawley, MD, FAAFP
President, Colorado Academy of Family Physicians

What are plans for wellness checks as children enter the school grounds?

With the national conversation focused on re-opening schools this week, I find an alarming lack of information coming from education leaders and or local government regarding re-opening our local schools.

News flash! Don’t expect any help or direction from the Federal government, especially with perhaps Trump’s worst/least qualified cabinet member Betsy Devos leading the Department of Education.

Garfield County Commissioners with apparently access to lots of cash for aiding the oil and gas industry have made no indication that they are prepared to offer aid to local school districts for assistance in the costs associated with getting our children in an educational environment safe from contagion. (But then again kids are too young to vote.)

What are plans for wellness checks as children enter the school grounds? What if any plans are there for mask mandates regarding wearing of masks, masks that have at least some level of protection and not just bandanas. Are there plenty of masks on hand for staff or kids that forget theirs from home? Will students have access to clean masks for every day of school? (as I watch video of schools opening in other countries I note that all the students in a class are wearing the same masks indicating that these are issued by the schools, which based on lack of leadership, I doubt we will see here.)

Are schools staffed sufficiently for the additional cleaning required during use while a pandemic is going on?

Have schools eliminated non-essential/elective classes so that focus and resources can be placed on core courses. Will there be additional staffing to supervise playground activities?

What are the protocols and response for the inevitable infections that will occur among staff and students and their immediate families?

Marco Diaz

Skewed use of our tax dollars by Trump and his enablers continues

Businesses tied to Donald Trump’s family and associates received as much as $21 million in government loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.

Clay Lacy Aviation, a California private charter jet company, received a grant for $27 million under the CARES Act $2 trillion federal stimulus package. This was a grant, not a loan; no payback required. Lacy had contributed the maximum allowable to Trump’s 2016 campaign as well as $47,000 to the Republican National Committee. The CARES Act also suspended the 7.5% excise tax charged for private jet flights and allotted funds for private jet terminals and other services.

Last week Trump criticized the CDC’s guidelines for opening schools during America’s out-of-control pandemic as “very tough and expensive” and said the agency was “asking schools to do very impractical things.” Not only has he not provided funds to help schools open safely, he is now threatening to withhold federal funds from schools that try to protect the lives and safety of our teachers and students.

The blatant, skewed priority of the use of our tax dollars by Trump and his enablers continues. Make sure your vote counts in November.

Annette Roberts-Gray

Garfield County lawsuit against AQCC is a waste of money

These are the words I said to the Garfield County Commissioners at their July 13 meeting.

You guys just don’t get it. Coal is dead. Oil and gas are on life support and you keep pouring taxpayer dollars down the same fossil fuel rat hole. A half million bucks on top of another million to a Denver law firm to support a frivolous lawsuit against the oil and gas regulations recently enforced by the Air Quality Control Commission. That’s the definition of sending good money after bad.

Rules like semiannual inspections for pipeline leaks. Semiannual! That’s nothing! Leaks should be constantly monitored. Senate Bill 181 did give local governments the responsibility of regulating the industry, but the state didn’t abdicate theirs.

You say 23 other governments are in league with Garfield County on this lawsuit. Of course they are. They’re getting in on the cheap. Garfield County’s picking up the whole tab. Why? Is Garfield County the sugar daddy for all the oil and gas affected communities in Colorado?

Commissioner Jankovski, you’re a businessman. You say there’s enough natural gas in the Piceance Basin to last 100 years. What good does that do when there’s no market for it? Currently, there’s such a glut of liquified natural gas our ships that are loaded with it are being turned away at foreign ports.

Early in the pandemic when the shelter in place order was in effect, Highway 82 was empty. Many of us learned we could work from home and leave our cars in the garage. Skies were blue, the air was free of exhaust fumes, and the price of gasoline plummeted. We proved we could live without fossil fuels.

We know this county’s finances have depended on industry severance and property taxes for a long time and that’s resulted to low county residential and commercial property taxes, but the goose that laid the golden egg is about cooked.

It’s time to move on. Renewable energy, hemp, tourism, anything but fossil fuels. Raise property taxes for residence and business properties worth in excess of a million dollars. They’re reaping the majority of the benefits from the county government anyway and they can afford it.

Businesses that think they can continue to make money the same way they always have into infinity are doomed to extinction. It’s the same for governments. Times change. Change with it or perish. Commit to the future and pull out of this litigation against the AQCC.

Fred Malo Jr.

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