To Wear or Not Wear
By Dr. Peggy Mathis
There are a few things in life that cause people to pick a side:
When coronavirus struck, I was not regularly wearing a mask. In order to avoid wearing a mask, I would only go to my place of employment (where there are only 3 other people in the building), or I would go to outdoor places, or I would just simply stay home. This is still largely my strategy.
Maybe I possess conspiracy theorist tendencies in me. Maybe I don’t believe everything elected officials tell us. When putting on a mask I feel like I am giving in to the government telling me what to do. I know I am not alone in my views.
I have scrolled through countless articles online. I have read research. We all can find documentation to support any view.
But here’s the deal. I don’t want our kids to be sitting home this fall when school starts. Remote learning is not effective. Our kids need structure, learning, socialization, and the safety net schools help provide.
We must balance the very real risk of children being OUT of school against real health concerns for our kids, staff, and community.
Fortunately, a family friend of ours is an infection disease control doctor at Saint Mary’s hospital. He knows his stuff and is widely respected in the medical community. His advice and pleas from the front lines have made me think.
In the course of our many conversations, he finally asked me, “If there was a simple way to keep the economy and the schools open, would you do it?” And I unequivocally said “sure!” His next statement then was, “Wear a mask.”
As a school superintendent who has been agonizing about whether school will open, I had to confront my own obstinacy and consider what Dr. Jameson has recommended. I want our schools to be able to open. I want our businesses to survive. I do not want another large scale shut down. I know there is one simple thing, when repeated often enough, that makes all of it more possible.
In terms of mask-wearing, I was a late adopter for sure.
I always thought I was healthy so even if I get COVID-19, it won't be that big a deal. I forgot that me masking and preventing infection will help protect those I care deeply about. As Dr. Jameson says "I mask to protect your loved ones, not myself". I’ll wear a mask in enclosed public spaces for our staff, students, and the loved ones in OUR community.
This recommendation is straight from a friend who studies and treats infectious diseases for a living. I trust his experience and what he has to say about this topic. This is not coming from a politician from on high who may or may not have the best interests of our kids at the forefront. If this gives us a fighting chance to open schools this fall, I have to do it. Please join me.
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