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The following is a prepared presentation to my kid’s school board concerning mask mandates. It is scheduled for 8:30 am and is a last-minute meeting where few parents were informed. Pray for our kids and that the board members make a wise decision.
My name is Stina. I have three children in the Florida Public School system. We have been here for a year, having moved from A Big City. I understand the Big City Public Schools has re-instated mandatory masking for all students and this school board may be feeling pressure to act in accord with the larger metro school board to our south, but I encourage you to resist doing things like Big City Public Schools. We moved here, like a great many other parents in our area, because Florida Public Schools has better schools. You don’t want to be like Big City Schools. Their schools aren’t as good. If any parents prefer how Big City Schools is handling their school system, I invite them to move across the county line. The real estate is cheaper.
I am not a great public speaker. You might detect a tremor in my voice. I’m usually content to sit and listen to the people I barely know sharing their views. It isn’t that I have no views – just ask my family (and Ricochet). Community is important to me and I don’t like alienating people who disagree with me. And we live in an age where alienation from friends and neighbors is so easy to do. But this issue is very important to me and my children and it’s time for me to move out of my comfort zone and be heard outside my tiny circle of family and close friends (and the internet… that’s for Ricochet’s benefit).
I am not ok with my children wearing masks for 6-8 hours a day. I understand there are parents who are terrified of COVID-19 and have strong convictions about the health and safety of their children. Don’t we all? We are all conscientious parents here. They think masking is an important part of controlling COVID-19. I understand that they believe the science supports this conclusion. This is what they have been told by our President, the head of the CDC, and countless media outlets. I’m not here to say they cannot act on their convictions and have their children wear masks to school. However, I am here because they wish to force me to abdicate my convictions and force my children, against mine and their wills, to wear masks to school.
It might surprise you to know that the parents who send their kids to school without masks have just as strong convictions on the subject as the parents who send their kids to school in masks or keep them home during these crazy times. But we do have our convictions. We understand the importance of facial cues in our children’s developing social and emotional intelligence. We understand how important the ability to see mouths are in communication. We are also concerned about filling our children with the fear that permeates the insistence on wearing masks. We do not want our children to grow up afraid. We want them to be brave, resourceful, and daring, capable of weighing risk and reward. Aside from these social and psychological development issues, we are also aware that masks worn for long periods of time without changing and with constant touching, can breed colonies of bacteria and fungi. We strongly believe masking our children is detrimental to their physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
The issue put before this school board is not simple. It is rife with strong feelings and strong opinions. Our attempts at objectivity drive us to find other ways to evaluate the best course of action, and so we turn to science. But even with science, consensus does not exist. For every study you bring up showing masks work, I can bring up a study showing that masks do not. Both sides can lay claim to highly reputable authorities to bolster our arguments.
To demonstrate, I have brought with me a collection of studies from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. It outlines the findings of multiple studies on the efficacy of mask-wearing. Repeatedly, we find that N-95 masks, tightly fitted, with proper mask hygiene (no face touching and a lot of hand washing), worn for short durations provides the best results for controlling viral spread. How many here are sending their children to school in tightly fitted N-95 masks their kids never touch? How many are only wearing them for short durations? Six – 8 hours isn’t short.
Instead, we are sending our kids with little pieces of cloth strapped to their faces. (The label reads, “Face mask for every day use. Not a medical device. Not suitable for use by children. Makes no claims of antiviral protection, prevention, or reduction.”) This cloth, while efficacious at hiding beautiful smiles and smothering knock-knock jokes, does little at stopping a virus that is 0.125 microns small. In fact, in 2010, a study on cloth masks showed they had near-zero efficiency at 0.3 microns. That’s more than twice the size of the COVID virus. While a great many people will say “masks work – look, no flu,” I would like to point out the flu virus is even smaller than SARS-COV-2 and anything stopping the flu virus would also stop COVID.
In 2015, a study from Australia showed cloth masks had an increased risk of infection due to moisture retention, reuse, and poor filtration. A few months ago, the University of Florida ran several masks through a mass spectrometer and discovered the presence of 11 pathogens! Among these pathogens were bacteria causing diphtheria, pneumonia, and meningitis. One mask was even found to contain a virus that causes fatal systemic disease in cattle and deer. And we want to put these on our children’s faces?
Recently, the CDC published a study on GA schools claiming masks were effective in preventing COVID transmission in schools. So says their conclusion. But if you read their study past the conclusion, you will find that, while teachers and faculty masking policies had a 36% reduction (I have to say kudos to those teachers for their incredible hygiene control in wearing cloth masks effectively), there was no statistically significant difference between different masking policies for children. And can there be any surprise there when children are constantly touching their faces, readjusting their masks, and have questionable hand hygiene?
The evidence to support masking simply does not exist.
Finally, of what benefit does it gain our children to be forced to wear masks? Over the course of 2020, masks were mandated in many locations and their infection curves are nearly identical to their regional peers who did not mandate masks. Kids were still testing positive for COVID-19 last year. One parent reported to me that her kids were quarantined 4 times last year, in spite of complete compliance with masking. My son was quarantined over his birthday weekend, the second year in a row. Will forced masking do away with quarantines? Or will we continue to subject our kids to a policy possessing a host of negatives and absolutely no positives?
I understand the increase in COVID numbers is alarming to many, especially when our media seems quite content to keep us in a constant state of fear and alarm. But the current 7-day average of deaths for every county in Florida is zero. What is expected in viral variants is that they spread more easily, but are less deadly. This information is backed up by hospital administrators all over the state in a recorded meeting with our governor. Repeatedly, the administrators claimed hospitalized cases consist of those who tested positive while being admitted for other reasons. There is little to nothing to fear.
I implore this board that, in the absence of a consensus of scientific evidence, you side with parents having the freedom to make the best choices for their children. We should all, both mask wearers and naked facers, be given the freedom to act on our own, deeply held convictions, however divergent they may be. Please do not re-instate the mask mandates.
Thank you.Published in