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A student has her hands sanitized in the schoolyard, as schools outside the greater Montreal region begin to reopen their doors, in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que., on May 11, 2020.


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Mask appeal

Re Mask-wearing Is Becoming A Social Norm, But One To Practise Alongside Other Precautions (May 21): Some have accused Theresa Tam and the federal pandemic team of flip-flopping on masks for the general public. These criticisms are not a surprise to me.

Living in a household where sewing masks for health care workers has become a daily activity, I’m happy to hear there is now a sufficient supply for them to be recommended for all. Over the past two days, I’ve seen reasonably priced boxes of 50 masks in two local hardware stores and at Canadian Tire.

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Sensibly, Dr. Tam seems to have waited until supply has caught up to the potential demand of “masks for all.”

Albert Chambers Ottawa

In or out?

Re Ontario Schools Won’t Reopen Until This Fall (May 20) and Small Businesses Prepare For Pandemic-era Reopenings (May 21): As businesses begin to reopen in Ontario, they need employees to return to work. However, extended school closings will likely mean many parents will be prevented from doing so as they care for children at home.

Allowing elementary schools to reopen with restrictions, like in Quebec, France and the Netherlands, would free up parents and promote a speedier economic recovery, while mitigating risks of a new wave of infections.

Brian Tsui Richmond Hill, Ont.

Re Quebec Is Gambling With Children’s Health (Opinion, May 16): We sent our children back to school. We’re confident in our decision. The statistics we read, about something grave happening to them, reassured us. Frankly, we’re more worried about the kids hurting themselves playing outside.

Our No. 1 worry was what the environment would be like with all the protocols. Would it be miserable and unfriendly? In reality: The kids haven’t had one negative comment. They’re thrilled to be back.

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Other parents can say it’s too soon and choose to stay put. We chose to move forward. It takes one person to lead a group, to leap off the cliff into the water below. We’re a little apprehensive and, like everyone else, we don’t know what will happen. But we’re not afraid.

We’re hopeful that some good will come of this, because we all need something positive right now.

Becca Atkinson Gatineau, Que.

Nearly 90 per cent of Quebec’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care. This is a national tragedy. But the containment of the problem to an easily identifiable group is precisely why François Legault has started to open schools.

Kids should be able to learn, especially those from disadvantaged neighbourhoods where access to private resources is limited, and parents are more likely to be under duress.

Anne Russell Montreal

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Six letters

Re 46 Ways Our World Is About To Change (May 16): For how long?! Ask a psychologist how long it takes to change beliefs, habits, behaviours – surely more than a few months. Good luck!

Louise Morin West Vancouver

Re No. 31: The Future Will Be Masked (Opinion, May 16): Articles on how the world would change were interesting, though less so after hearing from history professor Mark Humphries: “Every prediction that came out of 1918 about the lasting effects of that flu and how the world would change – none of them ever transpired.”

Rather than predictions that can make an already nervous populous even more anxious, perhaps an analysis of history – what those predictions were and where prognosticators failed – might be more useful. Failing that, at least forecast that another madcap, no-holds-barred, Roaring Twenties might also be the result of this pandemic!

Bill Murray Whistler, B.C.

Columnist Elizabeth Renzetti touches briefly on Canada’s perverse paradox: “The knotty philosophical trap presented by Quebec’s ban of most public servants from wearing visible religious symbols, such as the niqab, while at the same time endorsing masks, as Premier François Legault has just done." It should be time The Globe devoted more coverage to the ways in which the new normal may unmask the hypocrisy I find in Mr. Legault’s legislation.

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Doug Bale London, Ont.

Re No. 15: Nationalization Will Hit The Oil Sector (Report on Business, May 16): During my 37-year career in the oil industry, I have lived through five economic downturns, each driven by an excess of supply over demand. But the COVID-19 crisis feels somehow more existential.

With demand now down about 30 per cent, high-cost oil produced from fracking and oil sands is being shut in across Canada. Even when the pandemic is over, will we be as keen to sit unmoving in cars on a busy highway, rather than work from home? Will we sit in airplanes, sharing air with 300 other people?

I further fear that if next August in British Columbia looks like last January in Australia, demand for a higher carbon tax will have people rushing to buy Teslas rather than Ford F-150s. We may well remember January, 2020, as the point of peak oil, and an ugly milestone for expensive Canadian oil.

Patrick Rambold Calgary

Re No. 37: Get Ready For A Lot More One-act Plays (Arts & Pursuits, May 16): One of the most memorable shows, for those lucky enough to have seen it, was a touring production of George Bernard Shaw’s Don Juan in Hell that came to Toronto’s Massey Hall back in the 1950s.

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There was no stage setting. Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Charles Boyer and Charles Laughton each stood at a podium and read their lines. That lineup of stars was exceptional, but there is a lot of theatre that could be well presented in such a format. Shaw and Henrik Ibsen are obvious choices, but also think of Tennessee Williams or Shakespeare’s many death scenes. It is the words that make them.

Who really needs Desdemona pretending to be dead, in bed, on stage, at considerable expense?

Murray Citron Ottawa

Re No. 39: Art Will Become Appointment Viewing (Arts & Pursuits, May 16): Many of us are desperately missing art galleries along with the full-sized pleasures of live concerts and real cinema, as opposed to the small-screen versions we are exhausting. That’s why I’ve turned to public sculpture for inspiration.

Luckily, my city has a terrific art gallery with a major sculpture garden that remains “open.” In Toronto, there are ambitious pieces created by Banksy, Joe Fafard and Henry Moore (to name a few of many) that are available 24/7 and exist in safe, fresh air. They don’t require an appointment, nor demand that we move along hurriedly nor, perhaps best of all, exit through the gift shop.

John Chalmers Guelph, Ont.

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