A call for optional masking in schools

My children are too young now to remember life before the COVID-19 pandemic, but every day they go to school in Northampton amidst a ...



My children are too young now to remember life before the COVID-19 pandemic, but every day they go to school in Northampton amidst a sea of ​​masked faces, my heart breaks for them.

He breaks for all that has been lost over the past two years, and now, especially for all that my children will lose if the mask mandate continues. As a speech therapist, the anguish is just as deep for my students. Their paths were forged with many challenges. All our children deserve change.

The Northampton School District has failed to change its decision-making during the country’s “post-pandemic phase”, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief adviser, calls it. Six weeks ago, largely due to public dissent, the school board voted to make masks optional.

However, on May 9, Superintendent John Provost reinstated the mask mandate, without consultation with the committee, proving that community discourse on the issue should be far from over. This column follows my first article of March 24, entitled “Unmasking the problem of wearing a mask in our schools”.

The CDC has now proposed guidelines for low, medium and high transmission areas that include recommendations to hide indoors only for high transmission areas, coded in red. Massachusetts and the city of Northampton dropped their indoor mask mandates in March. Even the State Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the CEE no longer recommend wearing a mask indoors. To say that the Northampton Public Schools approach has been over the top lately would be an understatement.

At a school board meeting on May 12, Merridith O’Leary, director of the city’s health department, postulated that we will never be “in the red,” due to our high vaccination rates and treatments that are now available to those who become ill.

Remarkably, at the same meeting, O’Leary always insisted on the continued use of masking in schools and dodged multiple requests from school committee members to provide suggested metrics, upon which decisions regarding masks might be made. taken in the future. For the district to adopt a policy that has such an impact on the lives of its students, without transparency, is a gross abuse of power.

Some of us still rely on the mistaken assurance that there is “no scientific evidence” that masks negatively impact language, learning, or social-emotional development. In reality, there is no evidence because any kind of prior study exploring this question would be considered unethical, cruel and certainly illegal. Only a colossal global problem like the COVID-19 pandemic could have dragged us all into an unintended social experiment like this.

However, more recently, a research paper has emerged from Brown University titled “Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on early childhood cognitive development: initial findings from a longitudinal observational study of child health. child”. Researchers discuss an ongoing study that began in 2009. It has opened a unique window into what happens to the brains of children living under chronic pandemic restrictions, including prolonged masking.

When researchers compared assessments between pre-pandemic and pandemic years, they identified a seismic decline in children’s cognitive abilities. The researchers write: “The results highlight that even in the absence of direct SARS-CoV-2 infection and COVID-19 disease, environmental changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic significantly affect and negatively affects infant and child development.

The impaired neurodevelopment that we have yet to fully understand is not only unfathomable, but probable. Many parents, myself included, should wish to unenroll their children from this unintended social experiment at the first reasonably safe and responsible opportunity. This time has come. It was months ago.

When under a mask mandate, our children attempt daily interactions with their teachers and peers against the tide of muffled voices, indistinguishable facial expressions, and absent visual cues. In the eyes of a communications professional, this has been an incredible hurdle since the start of the pandemic.

Today, it has become nothing less than an act of oppression against the youngest members of our society, who have the least power to speak out. When national data freed us from the shackles of restrictions months ago, children should have been the first to fly free, not the last. The children of Northampton are still waiting to get their lives back.

Now is the time for parents to stand up for their children. Whether or not the mask mandate is arbitrarily lifted, we must speak on their behalf. If we remain silent, there will be no end in sight, despite state and federal stipulations. Our voices and those of our children must be heard. Let’s give our children the freedom they deserve.

To help advocate for children’s rights, email NPS district leaders and share your views. Contact Pioneer Valley MaskChoice at maskchoicenorthampton@gmail.com. Talk to other community members, parents and students to finally unmask this hidden conversation.

Breanne D. Schwartz is the founder and owner of Northampton Speech Therapy, a pediatric private practice in Northampton. She is an ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist and licensed practitioner in the state of Massachusetts.



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Newsrust - US Top News: A call for optional masking in schools
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