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President Donald Trump is loudly proclaiming that students across the nation must return to the classroom this fall. So why is he, like Republicans in the Minnesota Senate, not actually doing the work to make that happen?

We all know that school courses have prerequisites. You can’t take calculus if you’ve not passed algebra. No advanced-placement literature without English grammar. And you can’t put kids back in the classroom if you haven’t controlled that pesky little coronavirus. And, according to scientists — the folks who have studied this — we can control the virus if we all do some really easy things: wash our hands often, stay at least 6 feet away from others and wear a mask.

And that’s where my Republican friends (not all of them, just leaders like Trump, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and others) draw the line, stomp their feet and cry, “My freedom!”

Sadly, these folks think that they can take calculus without passing algebra and beat the virus without personal responsibility. And many of these privileged folks may been allowed to take some shortcuts. According to his niece, Trump himself got into college by hiring a smart person to take an exam in his place. But the coronavirus stands tall at the door to the school, allowing no shortcuts.

So you want your kids to go back to school? Do your homework. Wear a mask. Or be prepared for virtual classes until we have a vaccine. It’s not up to your local school board. It’s up to you and whether you are responsible enough to do your part.

Bruce Anderson, St. Cloud, Minn.

• • •

It is important to be safe; it is also important to be logically consistent and fair across generations. While no activities are without significant risk during this pandemic, increasing amounts of data are consistently showing that children not only have a vastly lower risk of significant illness, but are also less prone to spreading SARS-CoV-2. When taking that emerging data in combination with the established data that decreased access to schooling has profound harms that last for decades, any curtailing of in-person public school access at a time when any businesses or adult activities that were not deemed “essential” during the initial, statewide stay-at-home order are open would simply be inappropriate. While modifications such as having children wear masks and frequently practice hand hygiene would be reasonable, to limit school in the absence of a full return to shelter-in-place would be either an acknowledgment that our society does not truly value children and their future, or that decisions are being driven by cognitive errors such as identifiable victim effect, present bias and omission bias rather than being driven by data and logical consistency.

Jeffrey Nowak, Edina

The writer is a physician.

VOTING

Receive ballot, fill out, return. Easy.

Justin Clark’s July 13 editorial counterpoint attacks mail-in voting, a moot issue in Minnesota as mail-in voting is not an option except in a limited number of small precincts (“Mail-in voting would undermine election integrity,” Opinion Exchange). Here is my smooth experience in what we do have: no-excuse absentee voting.

A month ago, I submitted an online request to the office of the secretary of state’s official elections website, mnvotes.org. On that request I’d needed to include my driver’s license number and sign a statement attesting to my eligibility to vote. My ballot arrived in the mail a week or two later.

On July 4th I sat at my kitchen table and voted in our primary election. No need to wear a mask. No risk of contracting COVID-19. No witness needed as I was already a registered voter. Then I mailed my ballot, no postage required, on my morning walk. Five days later I went again to mnvotes.org to check my ballot’s status. The website told me that my “ballot was accepted on July 8, 2020, and will be counted.”

As for that “I Voted” sticker Clark mentioned — it came with my ballot packet.

Evelyn Solo, North Mankato, Minn.

• • •

The debate continues about vote-by-mail without much, if any, attention to a very obvious alternative. There is currently one location for early voting in person in Minneapolis, located on East Hennepin Avenue. The city of Minneapolis has 49 recreation centers, according to its park website. Open four of these in convenient locations around the city. If the volunteer pool is limited, open these in-person locations on Fridays and Saturdays. Voters can drop off their absentee ballot or vote in person.

Dan Gunderson, Minneapolis

• • •

I live a couple of blocks from the early voting center at 980 East Hennepin Av. I’ve lived here since 1991. I’ve had to correct directions for Minneapolis residents, bus drivers, cabdrivers (remember those?) and all the others who confuse Hennepin Avenue South with East Hennepin Avenue. (That would be about a mile and a half off, give or take.)

I think the current announcement about the early voting center and all future announcements must include a simple map.

This could be as little as a thumbnail inset including the Mississippi to the left of the map, an abbreviated “East Henn.” with a named cross street and a big star or arrow over the correct address.

Thanks for making early voting work well!

Emilie Quast, Minneapolis

POLICING

Encourage the good in officers

While thinking about policing and the urgent need for reform/transformation, a memory surfaced.

In 1989, my son, who struggled with mental illness, came for a weekend in Farmington where I was pastor of a small church. Unfortunately, he became stressed and decompensated — lost it — and it manifested as anger at me. When it escalated into threats to harm me, to take my life, I called the police. The officer handled it well, quietly asking my son how he felt and suggesting they go to the station. My son agreed. The officer later drove him back to his metro group home. The next day a man came to see me in my office — it was the officer in plain clothes. On his day off he came to see how I was doing, and said he was concerned about me — still brings tears to my eyes.

Is there a way to nuance our momentum for change in policing? In my subsequent work in restorative justice, I discovered a police force that facilitated restorative dialogue between victims and offenders, and I recall the push for community policing, having officers get to know the people on their beat, to be seen as part of the community and a genuine resource.

What happened to these initiatives? Let’s bring them back and cultivate those caring instincts!

Jean Greenwood, Minneapolis

• • •

We see in “A troubled block calls for help” (July 14) that everyone regardless of their socioeconomic status desires basic safety. It is shameful that local residents must put up their own physical barriers and work shifts to keep trouble out. This is a fundamental responsibility of local government — the Minneapolis City Council and the Minneapolis Police Department. In the wake of the George Floyd tragedy, local officials have traded their mission with calls for defunding and dismantling the police. It is ironic that Council Member Alondra Cano, a supporter of defunding MPD, cannot answer her constituents’ calls for a solution. Where is her “harm reduction” plan? Aren’t you embarrassed that residents have taken action on their own for self-preservation? This is a failure of elected activists who are more interested in their “woke” status than keeping residents safe.

Minneapolis residents must wake up to the pathway the City Council has chosen. If not, I see more neighborhood barricades appearing in the near future.

Joseph Polunc, Cologne, Minn.

The writer is a retired law enforcement officer.

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