I am a retired public health nurse and an outdoor enthusiast, and I am appalled by Noozhawk columnist Dan McCaslin’s March 29 commentary, “COVID-19 Social Distancing in Santa Barbara County Backcountry.”

To celebrate and encourage people to flock in hordes (McCaslin’s words) to the hiking trails is completely misguided and irresponsible! This column does a huge disservice to the community of Santa Barbara.

Social distancing is not walking on a hiking trail or riding on a bike path with hundreds of other people while maintaining 6 feet between you. Encouraging people to all go to the same places at the same time is so obviously wrong that I can’t believe I am even having to say it.

McCaslin makes reference to how lucky we are that our hiking trails are not closed like the beaches and hiking trails are in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, yet he encourages the precise thing that caused those areas to be closed!

Thanks to this column, the trailheads will be even more crowded than they already have been. Is there no oversight at Noozhawk??? This is not “celebrate the wilderness week.” This is a worldwide financial and social crisis, and tens of thousands of people have died. People are already unsure about what is the right thing to do because of vacillating messages from heads of government on down the line, and this commentary gives people a big push in the wrong direction.

The responsible thing for Noozhawk to report would be that there is a concerning rise in the number of people trying to enjoy being outdoors all at the same time. To caution going out to exercise at peak times.

Our community should be instructed that if they see a full parking lot at the trailhead, or many people on the bike path, to go home and come back later to get their exercise when there are fewer people. People should be encouraged to stagger their use, get up early, go out later, don’t go out on the weekend, etc.

Congratulations, you have just shot the community in the foot, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

Fran Bryan
Santa Barbara

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Santa Barbara City College professor Scott McCann’s April 1 commentary, “Opposition to Teen Talk Sex Ed Program Misses Valuable Learning Opportunity,” went way out of the way with his straw man arguments. He claims that parents who are opposed to the controversial Teen Talk Middle School program are against sex education in the Santa Barbara Unified School District. That is simply not true.

As Peggy Wilson wrote in her March 29 commentary, “Santa Barbara School Board’s Rush to Teen Talk Not the Best Option for Sex Ed,” these parents are asking the district to consider a different choice, the HEART: Healthy Education and Relationship Training.

Both HEART and Teen Talk meet the new state standards required by AB 329. The difference is that HEART is not explicit or exploitative. The Santa Barbara Unified School District school board should give us a choice.

Maria Ramirez
Santa Barbara

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The coronavirus crisis is not a war. That is an outdated metaphor. Wartime pits humans against each other. We are not fighting each other. We are all simply trying to stay alive.

What we need now is a global sharing of resources, data, information and, most of all, compassion. I support increasing manufacturing of necessary supplies, as has happened during wartime.

But this is not a war. This is a critical opportunity to think of our humanity and how we can help each other. If it helps you to think about it as a war in which we band together and work against a common enemy, OK.

But let’s be clear: Traditional war has humans killing each other. Right now, the most important thing we can do is help each other.

Martha Donelan
Santa Barbara

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Congratulations to the New Right of Santa Barbara County for having a champion like Ron Fink. His ability to spin anything on a dime is masterful. Why, in Noozhawk’s March 13 Letters to the Editor, he proclaimed the COVID-19 pandemic as a nothing-burger, just another attempt by the leftists to take down President Donald Trump.

But in the March 27 Letters to the Editor, Fink has masterfully weaponized the virus and used it to not only bash environmentalists but those egg-head urban planners who still think we’ll all just give up our cars and use public transportation.

A mere three weeks, and more than 6,000 dead Americans later, he’s gone from telling us all to chill, to using the concept of social distancing (eye roll) as an argument against high-density dwellings. Truly masterful, he’s a keeper.

Leah Braitman

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Ron Fink’s March 31 commentary, “Stacking And Packing; AKA Increased Density,” does not make Noozhawk look very educated. Was it edited before it was posted? There are no statistics cited. It’s a totally uninformed opinion based piece.

Frank Thompson
Santa Barbara

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Regarding the March 20 article, “Santa Barbara Golf Club, Glen Annie Golf Club Close Following Governor’s ‘Shelter-at-Home’ Order,” and the young people defying the closure of the Santa Barbara skateboard park, our teens and twenty-somethings have been raised by a socialist school system. They were taught that laws are to be broken. It is up to US to bring back the Rule of Law and respect for the Constitution.

When we allow our government to let illegals cross OUR border and break every law we have, our children are going to disrespect US.

Mary Carbone

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To UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry Yang and All Affected by UCSB “Going Online”

You have a crisis on your hands. A crisis of confidence.

As a senior English major at UC Santa Barbara, I had looked upon my last quarter with melancholy. Here I have had the support of instructors who invested in me and other students with the remarkable reputation that UCSB had earned.

I was a transfer student; I studied at both Santa Barbara City College and Allan Hancock College before transferring. I am a nontraditional student, and with this comes a great deal of experience. I have had a long history of brick-and-mortar college instruction followed by three solid years of exclusive online education. Last summer, I was able to take two online courses within the UC System, one at UC Berkeley and the other at UC Irvine.

There is a public petition circulating — with close to 7,000 signatures at the time I am writing this — from students and the families of students with the demand for a reduction in their spring tuition fees. “I feel I am paying to teach myself” and “Our tuition is the same, but the learning experience is subpar” are some of the comments left on the petition.

I cannot agree more. The infrastructure of the online learning experience compared to that of the local community colleges, or even local high schools, has been subpar. This rush to implement inadequate software coupled with poor instructor communication under a strict quarter system threatens to tarnish your reputation. More important, your student population is severely underserved by your inadequate systems.

In one course, I have only received blocks of text on Gauchospace. This course has only had one failed Zoom meeting with no follow up. I have not heard from the instructor in four days since, though I have emailed three times, politely asking for office hours and an update.

I fail to understand why UCSB did not support the bare minimum of online software for its students/instructors, such as Canvas? I can’t understand the implementation of Zoom, rather than simply uploading audio files and Powerpoint with forum discussions. I have never experienced a more disconnected classroom than I am now. Within the bounds of a research university, connection should be the emphasis.

The UC experience, according to the UCSB website, is to be one that aspires to deliver a “dynamic environment that prizes academic inquiry and interpersonal connection to inspire scholarly ambition, creativity and discoveries with wide-ranging impact.” When students are met with broken links, overloaded systems, deliverables that are disjointed and confusing, you should expect us to ask why and demand better of you. We deserve an explanation.

As the system stands now, already possessing our spring tuition fees and grades nine weeks away, how do you — UC Santa Barbara — rise to the occasion and provide us with the educational experience we earned?

Terra Paige
Santa Maria

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