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LETTERS: Readers sound off on masks, schooling and rehab in times of COVID-19

LETTERS: Readers sound off on masks, schooling and rehab in times of COVID-19

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Air Force Sr. Airman Roger Pascal goes over the gas mask with troops at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamagordo, N.M. participating in Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare training Tuesday Jan. 14 , 2003.

Because I care

Twenty-nine years ago, during the early morning, a USAF C-5 pilot arrived at King Abdul-Aziz Air Base at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, carrying U.S. Army troops and equipment in support of Desert Storm. Iraq had been launching SCUD missiles into Saudi Arabia with U.S. Patriots hopefully intercepting them as they were inbound. Fearing the missiles carried chemicals, USAF crews were required to carry a bulky bag with a charcoal chemical suit and a gas mask. If sirens sounded, we were to first buckle the gas mask on our face and then zip a charcoal chem suit over our flight suits.

Like some today, I did not think I needed a mask. However, when the sirens sounded and the greenish tail of a SCUD missile screeched over the Saudi airfield, I sprinted back to my C-5 to frantically find my gas mask.

Now, with more wisdom and time to think about our COVID virus, I wear a mask when I leave home. I wear one because I have a precious wife who has made me a better person for almost 50 years, two wonderful grown kids and two adorable grandkids. With more than 23 years in public schools, I wear a mask for the teachers and former students I see when I venture around town. I wear a mask today for the same reason that I ran for the “gas mask bag” that I had left in my C-5 many years ago….today’s mask adds some small degree of certainty for all the unknowns. The mask just might mean life for me and those I love. Not wearing one just leaves me with that same unknown fear that I had years ago as a SCUD screeched overhead in the Saudi sky.

Bill Shepard, USAF (Ret.), Waco

Back to school

I think that McLennan County is making a huge mistake in not allowing students to return to school. (Well, non-religious school students. Live Oak, Reicher and Eagle Christian students are allowed to return to school per Gov. Abbott’s order; clearly, not all Texas kids are the same.) Children are unlikely to suffer from infection and they learn better when in a classroom. They deserve to have the opportunity to learn.

I am a teacher and I want to be in the classroom. Europe only kicked COVID by shutting down completely. The United States will clearly never do that, so COVID is here to stay till a vaccine is made. Are we going to keep kids out of school for the whole year? Are only children whose parents can afford private religious schools allowed to learn? Let teachers and students who are at risk make the decision to stay at home and learn online; let those who want return to school. I don’t envy those in positions of power, but the ramifications of this awful decision (should it extend beyond Sept. 7) will be felt in years to come.

Jennifer Johnson, Woodway

Local heroes

At a time when there is much talk about heroes, I would like to mention a group of local heroes at the Getterman Wellness Center. These professionals work every day to help clients get back on the road to recovery. They do their jobs with care, knowledge and commitment. They also make it fun.

During these days of the COVID-19 virus, it’s even more of a challenge to rehab while wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. These challenges make their jobs more difficult. They have risen to the occasion by providing a clean and safe environment for everyone during the rehab sessions. Thanks, Chris, Shawn, Julio, Jenny, Donna, Bailey, Kelbe and Katie.

Larry Lynch, Waco

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