As summer draws to a close and districts prepare for the first day of school, parents continue to wonder if they want students to be required to wear masks.
Last week, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Public Health announced that they do not require masks in schools, but instead recommend all unvaccinated kindergarten students. in the sixth grade to wear masks indoors, except for students who cannot for medical reasons. or behavioral needs.
“DESE and DPH also strongly recommend that unvaccinated staff in all classes, unvaccinated students in grades 7 and up, and unvaccinated visitors wear masks indoors,” they said in a statement.
Yet, as new cases rise again, the advisory moves away from a recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all K-12 students, teachers and staff should wear masks. indoors this fall, regardless of COVID vaccination status. COVID vaccines are currently only available for people 12 years of age and older.
Massachusetts Teachers Association president Merrie Najimy called the state’s announcement a “reckless move.” Rather, the MTA supported the CDC’s recommendation.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said he expects cities across the state to make their own decisions on local tenure based on what works for their school district.
“You have districts where 80 or 95 percent – in some cases almost 100 percent – of all children between the ages of 12 and 17 are immunized and you have other districts where the numbers are much lower than that.” , said Baker.
Some parents agree with the state’s decision.
A Hingham parent of three entering kindergarten, second and third grade said she was happy there was no warrant on the masks.
“So it’s important that school districts keep parental choice in place and don’t implement more stringent policies than what the DESE guide explicitly says. This should be celebrated and we should prioritize the welfare of children with optional masks, ”said Wendy Driscoll.
“We know that wearing masks has negative social, emotional and academic impacts. We must take a measured approach, wait and see. Let’s start the school year by letting the kids be happy to see their teachers and friends. Learn freely and more effectively with all forms of communication. It should be a YEAR OF RECOVERY AND NOT A YEAR OF UNFAVORABLE AND CONTINUOUS STAGNING LEARNING. Give these kids ‘HOPE’ for the new school year and walk away with smiling faces, ”Driscoll continued.
Doctors are responding to claims that masks have an impact on a child’s development, citing potential difficulties as well as solutions in a New York Times article, in the context of how scientific studies have suggested many times that masks help keep people of all ages safe.
“All of the scientists I have spoken to who have studied the complex ways in which children process and use information hidden by masks also believe that children will find ways to communicate and that parents and teachers can help them.” , wrote author Perri Klass.
Parent groups have also come together to resist calls for children to wear masks in schools.
An organization called “Bring back the MA kidsWas created in September as a “collective voice for thousands of parents across Massachusetts advocating for children to return to the classroom.” The group is managed 100% by parents and all volunteers, according to their Twitter account.
In a July 30 statement, they called for “definite evidence-based measures tired of any COVID-19 restrictions in schools, noting first that Massachusetts has high vaccination rates.”
“This is the goal we have all worked towards: we must now take advantage of this incredible progress and allow the children of the Commonwealth to finally access a normal school environment based on evidence on the ground, rather than succumb to political pressure, ”the statement began.
They argued that children are suffering and parents are losing patience and confidence.
“Calls for continued mitigation in schools assume a clear benefit, despite ample evidence that hiding children in school environments is by no means a panacea, and the downside of three disrupted school years for children. children of all ages is not unimportant. If state leaders reinstate COVID restrictions at school, parents, their children and our educators need an explicit and transparent exit ramp to remove these restrictions. Without it, students will be stuck in a perpetual loop of school restrictions with no end in sight, ”the statement said.
Alissa Ashley-High, a nurse and mother in Shrewsbury to two daughters aged 3 and 5, has said she supports mandatory masks in schools at the moment.
Its first reason is that it is not necessary to prove its vaccination status. Ashley-High explained how mask warrants were lifted for those vaccinated, referring to CDC’s May guidance that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks except under certain circumstances. She said she didn’t believe people were following this rule based on what she saw.
“Plus our children are not protected,” added Ashley-High. “So I am for [a mask mandate in school] until we can get our children immunized.
“My kids are doing fine, they much prefer to wear a mask and play with friends and not play with their friends at all. So I think it doesn’t really affect the kids as much as people think, ”Ashley-High continued. “It’s not like they’re wearing it 24/7 so they don’t see the emotion. They can see facial expressions in several other cases.
She suggested that children could start removing their masks again when they can distance themselves at school and when they are outside.
“Kids spit, they’re dirty, they’re germ carriers, and until we can protect them, I think the benefits outweigh the risks,” Ashley-High said. “I don’t really see this to be a disadvantage. I don’t think they will really have any problems socializing or missing things or decreased learning because of it.
But this period still scares parents.
Ashley-High said she is very pro-vaccine and is following research closely in hopes that her children can be vaccinated this fall.
For now, she controls what she can control. In public, the whole family wears masks to protect the children, despite the vaccination of both parents. She also chooses who her children interact with to keep them safe.
“You just have to look at more science when making your choices about your kids,” Ashley-High said.