Current Events

Masks Were Needed When Infection Rate Was High

Sarah Strait, Letter to the Editor, 03/31/2022




Editor,

I want to ensure that the people of our community are aware of a civil suit being filed by four parents (they have chosen to list their children on the suit as well but I do not think minors should be brought into these matters) against St. Joseph Public Schools, Lakeshore Public Schools and Watervliet Public Schools. It is nearly impossible to find any information about this civil suit. As a parent of two children in St. Joseph Public Schools, I feel this is extremely important information to know.

The families who have chosen to sue these schools are upset their children had to wear a mask in their correlating district. During a pandemic. Public schools are for the public – which includes children who have immunocompromisations or a loved one at home who may be at higher risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. It is also important to point out that COVID-19 has killed nearly 1 million Americans since 2020.

In addition to a public school's duty to keep their students safe, it also must consider the greater good of the community as a whole. By requiring masks in schools during periods of high risk, it helps our medical facilities from being over-run; it helps keep the teachers and other staff safe; it helps to keep the children in schools; and it helps to keep our elderly neighbors in our community safe. The masks were always going to be a short-term requirement -- as proven in February 2022 as the mask mandates were dropped once the level of risk had decreased.

I understand some children may have exceptional issues with the mask. I do believe those children with legitimate medical reasons should be given special consideration. Might it be more beneficial to spend money on helping our districts have better HVAC systems? Or the ability to pay for an additional paraprofessional for children who have these exceptional issues so that they may learn in an alternative space? Or perhaps more counselors? The American School Counselor Association recommends a ratio of 250:1. Michigan has one of the worst student-to-counselor ratios in the country at 671:1. No one wants children to suffer. If they have suffered from wearing a mask, seek solutions for that individual – with legitimate medical proof.

While I have your attention, please note that many of these people participating in these attacks against our public schools have also been showing up at school board meetings. Their misbehavior has been astounding and shameful. There have been too many incidents to mention, however, the police are now regularly parked outside these once civil meetings in case anyone gets rowdy. You have a right to make your opinions known. You do not have the right to throw temper tantrums repeating the same grievances over and over. That is not how a democratic society operates. To these parents: You are proving yourselves to be completely short-sighted, selfish and entitled.

Sarah Strait

St. Joseph

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