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Sheltering homeless
at river a dangerous plan

Regarding Ragan Henninger and housing the homeless along Guadalupe River (“S.J. may house homeless along Guadalupe River,” Page A1, Feb. 16 ), the homeless must never be allowed to camp near any streams, period.

This is what created the environmental disaster in the first place. I go there nearly every day. I have seen campers literally bathing in Guadalupe River, with soap. I was taught as a backpacker never, ever, to do this. Why do we tolerate it in our city?

The homeless should be humanely put up in tiny homes or tents between Hedding and Taylor, where there is a plenty of level ground and services are available.

No families will ever return to Guadalupe. River and Park until the homeless are moved. Even then, it will take years of effort to remove all the accumulated trash. Our city deserves better. We deserve better. The homeless deserve better.

Robert Wahler
San Jose

Tech firms may want
to rethink Texas plans

Hey Silicon Valley tech companies. Come on down to Texas where there is no fuel, electricity, or water.

Larry Stone
Sunnyvale

Pressure government
to vaccinate teachers

There is a ton of talk about opening schools for in-person instruction while the pandemic is widespread in our community and new, more contagious, variants are showing up. If people want schools opened up, then the pressure needs to be on the government to get vaccines into the arms of teachers. The government could do this quickly if schools were really a priority.

Any path to bringing students back to campuses will also require implementing multi-layered mitigation strategies that consider community conditions and include robust cleaning and updated ventilation systems, asymptomatic testing of students and school employees, six-feet social distancing and enforcement.

It is time to put pressure on Santa Clara County and state to make vaccines available for teachers and put safety measures into place. There is no acceptable number of school employee deaths. Anything less than fully vaccinating teachers is immoral if you want to reopen schools.

Robert Prola
Teacher
San Jose

Put education ahead
of COVID politics

With all due respect to Joseph Di Salvo, board member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education, he knows not of what he speaks (“Teachers need vaccinations for schools to reopen safely,” Page A6, Feb. 17).

For him to countenance the notion that he knows more about science than the CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, is preposterous. What he most certainly understands, however, is the enormous power of the public teachers’ unions and the need to keep them politically appeased.

Numerous private and parochial schools around the state have been reopened for months without teachers having been vaccinated and have done so safely and without any noticeable uptick in COVID cases or transmission rates. Clearly, these schools have embraced the science and have put the education of their students well ahead of COVID politics. Di Salvo should abandon his nonsensical rhetoric and support the re-opening of public schools. Now.

Nick Cochran
San Jose

Changing test evaluation
would ease student stress

Ask high school students what’s on their mind, the answer is often “The in-class test next week.”

I’ve been bouncing around the topic of “testing” in my head for a while and there is a simple solution to take the stress away from test-taking: Teachers can consider giving qualitative feedback instead of giving their students points. This way, no one fails, no one is average, and no one is absolutely correct (especially for the humanities classes).

For those who need improvement, their efforts are acknowledged and they are given opportunities to continue making progress on their work. For those who are doing a great job, they can seek to perfect their work.

Giving students feedback is a much more efficient way for them to recognize their mistakes and fix them, without fear or being discouraged.

Kelly Mou
Palo Alto

Column seeking Biden
apology is disingenuous

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Marc A. Thiessen’s Sunday, Feb. 14 column (“Capitol Police deserve apology from president, Page A13) requests President Biden apologize to the Capitol Police. It is in the 12th and last paragraph of the column  that Thiessen writes, “Let’s be clear: Donald Trump is responsible for what happened in the Capitol that day.”

Thiessen never asks Trump to apologize to the Capitol Police and the nation in response to the insurrection at the Capitol. Thiessen knows that Trump never apologies for his actions. That is why Thiessen’s article is both cynical and disingenuous.

Phillip Doppelt
San Jose

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Israeli minister sticks to Iran environmental terror claim

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COVID Update: State Legislature Passes Plan For Public Schools to Reopen

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF/AP) — The California legislature approved a $6.6 billion plan Thursday focused on pushing school districts to bring back students to classrooms before the end of the school year.

The bill does not order school districts to resume in-person instruction and it does not say parents must send their kids back to the classroom if they don’t want to.

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Instead, the state will dangle $2 billion before cash-strapped school boards, offering them a share of that money only if they offer in-person instruction by the end of the month.

School districts have until May 15 to decide. Districts that resume in-person learning after that date won’t get any of that money.

“We need to get the schools reopen. I know it’s hard, but today we are providing powerful tools for schools to move into this direction,” said state Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who pleaded with his school district to accept the money and offer in-person instruction.

Most of California’s 6.1 million students in 1,037 public school districts have been learning from home since last March because of the pandemic.

The bill passed both houses of the state Legislature on Thursday by overwhelming margins. But many lawmakers criticized the bill as too weak.

The bill does not say how much time students should spend in the classroom, prompting fears some districts might have students return for just one day per week and still be eligible to get the money.

Republicans in the state Senate tried to amend the bill to require schools to offer at least three days per week of in-person learning, but Democrats in the majority rejected it.

And while the bill requires most elementary school grades to return to the classroom to get the money, it does not require all middle and high school grades to return this year.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, has said he plans to sign the bill into law on Friday. The bill comes as Newsom faces a potential recall election later this year, fueled by anger over his handling of the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

READ MORE: COVID: Settlement to Allow Youth Sports to Resume Indoors and Outdoors in California

Newsom has trumpeted the back to school proposal as evidence of his commitment to getting students who have studied mostly online since last March into classrooms again.

But Scott Wilk, the Republican leader in the state Senate, said the bill was simply an effort by Democrats to give Newsom political cover so he can “get parents to believe he’s doing everything he possibly can for them.”

“The truth is this bill doesn’t do anything to reopen our schools. I believe with or without this bill, school districts that want to reopen will and school districts that don’t want to reopen won’t,” said Wilk, who voted for the bill along with most other Republicans.

The bill has two sets of rules districts must follow to get the money. The first set applies to school districts in counties where the coronavirus is widespread. The second set of rules applies to districts in counties where the virus is not as widespread.

To get the money, districts governed by the first set of rules must offer in-person learning through at least second grade by the end of March. Districts governed by the second set of rules must offer in-person learning to all elementary grades, plus at least one grade in middle and high school.

However, the Newsom administration changed the standards late Wednesday that dictate which counties must follow which rules. The new standards mean most counties will have to follow the second set of rules requiring districts to offer in-person instruction in all elementary school grades.

“It’s a little dishonest what’s happening,” said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a Democrat from San Diego, who voted in favor of the bill.

The bill also includes $4.6 billion aimed at helping students catch up after a year of learning from home. Districts could use this money to extend the school year into the summer or they could spend it on counseling and tutoring.

All districts would get this money, regardless of whether they offer in-person instruction. But the bill stated that districts must use at least 85% of that money for expenses related to in-person instruction.

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© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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