Letters submitted by BDN readers are verified by BDN Opinion Page staff. Send your letters to letters@bangordailynews.com.

Rethink masks in schools

While at a track meet, I met a mother who told me she is homeschooling because her child cannot breathe with a mask. This girl is an only child who loves school and would rather go back.

At a playgroup, a single mother, stressed out, told me her developmentally challenged kid can’t tolerate his mask — and she decided on homeschooling, despite all odds.

At my son’s baseball game, I noticed something odd. The coaches were reprimanding the kids to “stop screaming.” It seems to be a new thing: yell through your mask as loudly as you can. This didn’t look like a child’s game, rather it was a sign of muted frustration.

For our children’s sake, let’s rethink Maine’s school mask mandate. Perhaps students can be learning outside — without masks and also distanced — for much of the day. This mask mandate is not only hard on students, but teachers as well. Aren’t there other, creative ways to be safe but allow our kids to finally breathe?

I ask all Mainers to call upon Gov. Janet Mills to rethink the school mask mandate in favor of more tolerable practices. Especially during these hot summer days, masks are tortuous for kids.

Sarah Lobe

Orono

We can’t have business as usual

Despite the claims of Irv Smith’s letter on May 23, LD 163 and LD 1532 would not shut down the availability of asphalt or increase costs of other petroleum products in Maine.

What these bills would do, is require transparency and accountability by requiring low-cost fenceline monitoring. This would provide information about how much of the almost 600 tons of volatile organic compounds and 104 tons of hazardous air pollutants permitted for emission by the 120 petroleum tanks in South Portland each year is going beyond the perimeter of the facilities into the extremely close and densely populated surrounding community of homes, schools and daycares.

Chemicals in the emissions are linked to respiratory illness (asthma), neurological problems (with fetuses and young children most vulnerable) and cancer. Communities like South Portland are sometimes referred to as “sacrifice zones” — suggesting that our health is an acceptable price to pay for “business as usual”.

Currently, there is no requirement for actual testing of the emissions. Companies have been self-reporting using a formula based on information from the American Petroleum Institute. This has been found to be widely unreliable compared to actual testing. In 2013 and 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency required actual testing done which found two companies to be in violation of their permits.

Continuous fenceline monitoring would verify for neighboring communities whether it’s safe for them and their children to live here. Without transparency and accountability, we are left with business as usual. And business as usual for our developing children and the health of our community is unacceptable.

Roberta Zuckerman

South Portland

Address prejudice

As a loyal property taxpayer, I am suggesting a program for all the local schools. Perhaps it’s already in place, if so let me know.

I have been a proud supportive member for over 30 years of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I would love to see their updated programs in each and every school in Maine. I have sent a letter to our legislators about this.

Do our schools already have this program? Would the schools, if they don’t have it already, consider it for next year? It is needed now more than ever with so much prejudice more dangerously visible.

I feel the need to “do something.” We must teach our children tolerance and respect for all human beings! Some of them already are awake and aware thanks to loving caring parents.

Prejudice runs deep, and I think that if grandparents still cling to old beliefs, then the beliefs do get passed down, sorry to say.

I hope schools are open to considering this.

Ananur Forma

Rockland