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Masks can protect vulnerable students, vaccine incentives bad idea

A rally asking for a change in mask

A rally asking for a change in mask policy in schools on May 26 in Hauppauge. Credit: Raychel Brightman

Masks can protect vulnerable students

I was dismayed that parents gathered outside the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge to demand an end to masks in schools, with several carrying signs that read "Unmask the Kids" and such ["Call for end to school masks," Long Island, May 27].

I wish these parents would consider that mask-wearing policies in schools and other public places protect chronically ill and immunocompromised children, who have as much of a right to a public education as healthy children.

These parents should remember that science-backed evidence shows that masks protect the most vulnerable among us, including at-risk children who still cannot be vaccinated.

Rather than viewing mask-wearing as a burden for their children, parents might consider this an opportunity to teach their children about compassion, citizenship and shared responsibility as we work together to tackle a global health crisis.

Melissa Dennihy, St. James

As a parent and teacher, I have seen firsthand the effects of mask-wearing all day in school among various populations of students. Our children are subjected to wearing masks from the moment they get on the bus until they are home. That totals seven hours. Understandably, this is not comfortable, but children have adapted to this new normal for school.

However, students cannot see when a teacher smiles at them, or laughs with them. Students are not learning to read social cues or gain a teacher’s visual reinforcement.

Some students have spent months in virtual learning. Many have learned next to nothing and have lost out on social pieces, such as group work and sports. This is key to development in students at this age. Schools are pushing students through to graduation, some not even completing a large piece of assignments.

How are we really preparing students as they move on in their education? There is a significant impact here, and schools need to address these concerns and how to alter them.

Jackie Donnelly, Oakdale

Bad idea to offer ‘carrots’ with shots

The "carrots" offered to get vaccinated could be considered an incentive, reward or bribe. To me it is the same as saying to a child, "Take two more bites of peas and you can have ice cream." I agree with Arthur Caplan that the COVID-19 vaccination should be mandated ["Make getting COVID-19 vaccines mandatory," Opinion, May 27].

The New York State Public Health Law 2164 coupled with the state Codes, Rules and Regulations require children to be immunized for 11 diseases before the children enroll in day care or kindergarten. What is good for diphtheria, pertussis, polio and eight other diseases should be true for COVID. Add the COVID vaccination to the list?

Vaccines are given to prevent disease, protect individuals and in turn protect families, friends and the general population. After my second Pfizer vaccination, the Alka-Seltzer commercial came to mind: "Oh what a relief it is." Young and old should get vaccinated for COVID because it is what responsible citizens should do.

Now, with scholarships, lottery tickets and park passes, many will expect some sort of carrot to do the right thing.

Fred Drewes, Mount Sinai

Rewarding people with lottery winnings, free tickets or college scholarships might dramatically increase the number of vaccinated individuals, but this certainly seems like an unfair way to reward procrastinators ["Lotto, libations for shots," Letters, May 21].

The millions who acted responsibly earlier got no reward other than their own good health, which should be enough for everybody. Why not make the previously vaccinated people eligible for the same rewards as the latecomers?

There is also a bigger problem. Suppose in the future we are presented with another urgent need for mass inoculations, or even booster shots for the current disease. Will people then delay compliance in anticipation of reaping monetary rewards if they delay their shots?

This seems to be a poorly planned program.

Michael Steuer, Smithtown


Now that my adult son and I are fully vaccinated, I visited the Mets’ website to see the Citi Field seats available to fully vaccinated fans ["What to know," Sports, May 25].

I was disappointed to see that only poorly situated seats were available. These few seats were located in the bleachers or the farthest outfield nosebleed sections.

You would think that they would want to reward fully vaccinated fans, not punish us.

Walter Margolies, Plainview

Correction: Any New Yorker age 12 to 17 who received at least the first COVID-19 vaccine shot — at any time — can be entered in the lottery for a full-ride scholarship at state colleges or universities at A letter Thursday did not cite the correct shot time frame.