Masking up For In-Person Schooling Should Never Be Politicized or An Option, But A Universal National Mandatory!
We are living in a time when the coronavirus crisis escalating again, which means the virus is soaring and is contagious and causing illnesses faster and in younger people.
According to CDC, “the Delta variant causes more infections and spread faster than the earlier forms of the virus that causes COVID-19. It might cause more illness than previous strain in unvaccinated people.”
We know the severity of the COVID-19 what it does to our bodies when you get infected with the virus-you may live with it for a while or long-term, you may recover from it, or you can die from it as millions have worldwide. Living with COVID-19 is a matter of life and death-but fighting to prevent it, is the best choice to sustain your health, hence life.
We have come so far with this coronavirus to defy the rules that prevent and protect us ALL-young and old from its attack in the past.
Across the country, the number of Covid-Delta variants is increasingly growing with speed-from the month of July 2021 heading to August 2021 the numbers of Covid-Delta infections have rapidly gone up and it can go up to the tunes of 200,000 cases a day, just about the same as it was at the beginning of the pandemic.
But unlike now, then we did make some commitments to follow the safety and health guidelines, the number of infections was able to reduce drastically; and with the availability of the vaccines, the spread of the virus can be controlled even more if we collectively do our part.
While schools are reopening for Fall sessions for full in-person learning and under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ALL show care and conscientiousness in one another’s work or duties to bounce back to the safer zone again.
It is unsettling to hear and see that the Covid-Delta variant is affecting younger people and more kids are being hospitalized across the states, than during the previous variants, and at a time that there isn’t a vaccine available for them yet to shield them from the severity of the COVID-19. Following the guidelines in place such as mask-wearing, distancing, and avoiding crowd places while continue maintaining hygienic practices-handwashing and sanitation are the viable and only preventive measures at our disposal.
As schools are gearing up for full in-person learning this Fall, the situation could be dire and worse if we defy the safety and health guidelines that are proven to have worked in the past in preventing the spread of the virus especially mask-wearing.
Already released data shows that in the Southern states like South Carolina, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana cases of Covid-Delta infections have skyrocketed to the alarming point simply because they relax in implementing a mask-wearing rule.
This unfolding situation is making teachers, parents, students, and schools super nervous, frustrated, and fearful for the return to in-person learning that many parents and students want the most!
By this time last year, the Coronavirus has taught us that mask-wearing is the best, if not the only preventive tool ever been in reducing and protecting you from contracting and transmitting the virus because even if people are vaccinated they still can get infected with this new Delta variant since the vaccines are not available for younger children, but also the vaccines do not prevent you from getting infected by the virus, rather it minimizes the severity of the Covid illness. It is therefore logical and common sense that mask-wearing is the best preventive tool since we don’t know who is infected and who is not (asymptomatic) whether vaccinated or unvaccinated; or whether the virus is in the air and or where so that to avoid those places.
Mandating the Mask-Wearing
Most Americans about 69% are in favor of mandatory mask-wearing in school, however, the issue has become so polarized and politicized and party divided with 92% of democrats supporting a mask-wearing mandate and only 44% of Republicans are in support of mask-wearing even as many red states showed uncontrollable surging numbers of Covid-Delta variant infections.
Again, it’s logical and common sense that mask-wearing is the BEST preventive tool we all have at our disposal since not all age groups have available vaccines and even those who are eligible for vaccines have not all been vaccinated, and the virus keeps eluding us and infects us whether vaccinated or unvaccinated. However, with the mask on, chances of getting infected whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated is low with the combination of following the other safety and health guidelines.
As a parent, and an educator, yes, it’s my responsibility to ensure our kids and all students are safe while under the school custodian.
In K-8 specifically (or even K-12 since not all students eligible for vaccines are vaccinated) teachers, students and parents must all abide by the Code of Ethical Conduct and Responsibilities-Guideline for Responsible Behaviors in K-12 education; more so while COVID-19 pandemics is upon us-focusing on practices that maintain safety and healthy learning environment for everyone.
Ethical responsibility to children is that our paramount responsibility is to provide care and education in an environment that is safe, healthy, nurturing, and responsible for each student; maintaining safe and healthy schools that foster student’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development, respect their present and participation; in addition, support the right of each child to play and learn in an inclusive, yet safe environment that meets the needs of the children with and without disabilities.
Universal and consistent guidelines for schools are inevitable under the cloud of Covid pandemic threat and must therefore be in place and be followed by all involved to maintain our ethical responsibilities to our children.
Schools cannot afford to give every student special preference (some wear masks and others not) or excluding them from schools or activities based on others being defiant in mask-wearing to avoid virus transmission.
With the Covid-Delta variant soaring across the country, the federal government should be the leader in issuing universal national safety and health guidelines such as mask-wearing mandate back in place instead of leaving it as unilateral action by the states or local governments. Giving this as an option or choice of the local government to decide whether to wear a mask in school or not while new infections are skyrocketing is a recipe for disaster-we should focus on curbing this virus not paving the way for another lockdown like last Fall.
Certainly, when it comes to schools, teachers, students, and parents have responsibility for and to one another-none can operate safely and effectively without the cooperation of the others involved!
NAEYC Code of ethical responsibilities to children reminds all adults (teachers & parents) on principle-1.1 that “Above all, we shall not harm children. We shall not participate in practices that are emotionally damaging, physically harmful, disrespectful, degrading, dangerous, exploitative, or intimidating to children.” (NAEYC Code of Ethics 2005). What this principle means is that as adults we have ethical responsibilities to our children’s safety and health at home and in school. Violating this principle and other schools’ rules and behaviors for students, teachers and parents can lead to child neglect…families have the responsibility to ensure effective and smooth communication and transition from home to school more so during this pandemic. Developing and maintaining relationships of mutual respect, trust, and partner with schools with a common goal of nurturing effective learning for our children is fundamental.
Parents moral conduct include views of what is good, right, and proper; parents beliefs about their responsibilities and or obligations to their children and schools; parents ideas about how they should behave to accommodate sensitive issues like the crisis pandemic brought to our schools must be checked/navigate with restrain to avoid the unnecessary and unwanted tug of war between parents and schools, parents and teachers, or between students and teachers/schools, for such unrestrained behaviors is counterproductive and toxic for the learning environment…balancing our responsibilities to our children with caution and focus on things that are relevant and matter the most, is how to react to a vulnerable situation or crisis…There have been reports of violence in various states from people opposing mask-wearing. During a back-to-school event in Texas, an angry parent ripped a mask off from a teacher’s face…irrational responses or behaviors tend to make matters worse, not better.
School Rules Vs. Parents Choices during the pandemic
As an educator who has contracted the COVID-19, and a parent with children still in school, I know at hand the dilemma both parents and educators are facing during this COVID-19 Pandemic.
For the parents, if you believe you are the first teacher to your child and that nobody (the teachers or schools) can tell you how to raise your child you may have a decision to make and options/choices out there for you! While some will be asking for universal mask-wearing because we believe it’s the best preventive tool against spreading the covid-delta variant, parents who oppose mask-wearing should have the right to remove their child from schools that calls for or implementing mask-wearing as a mandate especially with this new variant which is infecting children more while they have no other best tool due to their ineligibility for vaccines.
If parents don’t like the mask mandate rule in their kids’ school, they have the right to pull their kids out of school-they have the option to choose from private schools, homeschooling, or virtual learning if their school districts offer that option. For other districts through virtual learning is not a conducive option for their learning. There are challenges from internet connectivity, affordability of internet subscription may require additional teachers or even available spaces in their homes for comfortable-bother free learning can be an issue that may hinder effective virtual learning. I do not believe it is realistic or even fair to others who feel the need for the protection mask-wearing offers to change the rules at the expense of few groups of parents or political leaders who oppose school rules such as mask-wearing mandate in school during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vaccinated Vs Unvaccinated Saga
If anything, we know that vaccinated and unvaccinated alike have the responsibility of curbing the transmission of the Covid virus. Everyone’s safety and health depend on her/his WILL to do the right things-to follow the safety and health guidelines in place to prevent yourself and others from contracting the virus.
Vaccinated and or unvaccinated people must follow the safety rules and protocols. Not all people unvaccinated are antivaccine-some are only hesitant at the moment because of medical reasons-they might be immunocompromised, have a bad experience with vaccines reactions in the past, or they want to buy time to see where this virus with so many unknowns is heading, especially those who have maintained good health, with strong body immunity and taking all precautions that in 18 months of this virus they have not to get sickened by the virus; and of course, there those who got sick by the virus and recovered without the help of any drugs…they too have the rights to weight in as long as they are following the safety and health guidelines in place and beyond…
These different groups of people have been played and labeled as antivaccine or vaccines deniers which flare up a heated debate among the members of the community and families, and people are divided or categorized causing yet more resentments to the vaccination…the divisiveness rhetoric over those vaccinated and unvaccinated as having two Americans is detrimental to the overall success in making people take the vaccines willingly or not.
Everyone should be encouraged or apply self-courage to comply and to protect not only self but also the public from making the virus uncontainable …ask yourself whether young or old how you can be a part of the solution in battling this virus, not a problem, a distractor, or stubborn in complying to safety and health guidelines that prevent you from being a super-spreader of the virus. The virus does not care who it infects, and our body defenses depend on how we take precautions and good care to prevent the virus infection.
We know the vaccines will not prevent you from getting a Covid-Delta variant infection if you do not wear a mask after vaccination. We, therefore, know that mask-wearing is the best tool to prevent you from contracting the virus…we know so because those vaccinated people who removed their masks and were exposed to the virus and cause breakthrough cases of COVID-19 infections.
Since we do not know who is vaccinated and who is not when in public after the universal masking mandate was dropped, we cannot say with certainty that the vaccinated people are getting infected by the unvaccinated people…also we cannot tell who is asymptomatic and not wearing a mask and who is not at this time when the mask is not universally mandated… also, we do not know how one is contracting this elusive virus-when, where, how or why some have not been infected 18 months in the pandemic while others have been infected multiple times regardless of how careful and dedicated they are in protecting themselves and others by following the safety and health guidelines in place, and so vaccines may not necessarily be one-size-fits.
If the virus is in the air, everyone should wear a mask…if the virus is transmitted from human to human, everyone should wear a mask and maintain distance and avoid crowds/big gatherings…if the virus is coming from the unknowns, everyone should wear a mask.
It is common sense at the moments when the Covid-Delta variant is surging to adapt to what works best, a universal mask-wearing mandate work best.
I am sure no one has a desire for a second lockdown. So, let’s not allow ourselves caught into the politics of virus-politicizing this deadly virus in being irresponsible, instead people should rise above it and acknowledge once again our willpower to fight a good fight and overcome this virus by rising above our differences in perspectives on how best firs prevent while continue vaccinating others and coming up with possible drugs or permanent vaccines that will put the Covid virus at bay.