END SCHOOL MASK MANDATES FOR NK STUDENTS

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We, the undersigned community members and friends of North Kingstown families, request that:

  1. the NK School Committee take swift action to lift school mask requirements for all students should the governor/RIDE give them the authority to do so. As this will take planning, we request that the school committee be proactive now and strategize for this eventuality. 
  2. Furthermore, we request that the committee revise its August 2021 policy in light of developments that have taken place over the past 5 months. As it stands, this policy is untenable because it would only allow parent choice for masking if very low rates of transmssion are met.  There is no data to support that masks work better when rates of transmssion are higher, in fact the data show that masking had little impact on curbing the spread in these last 4-6 weeks.  The very low rates identified to
    trigger optional masking in the current policy 
    may never happen, especially with how transmissible later variants are known to be. 

 

These requests are based on the following rationales:

  • Once the mandate has been lifted, families may choose the masking option that best suits the needs of their child/family.
  • The CDC has stated that the Omicron variant is less serious than previous strains. Our state’s infection rate for Omicron is falling sharply.
  • All school-aged children and adults, including teachers, have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. 
  • The CDC has declared that both vaccinated and unvaccinated people are capable of transmitting Covid. For this reason, it does not make sense to offer parent choice for masking for only those students who have been vaccinated.
  • The CDC has stated that vulnerable people may choose to use N95 masks, which are highly effective in protecting the wearer. The CDC has said that the vaccine protects from serious illness and death. Furthermore, therapies to treat Covid are now available. Immunocompromised people now have a multitude of tools to protect themselves.
  • The CDC now concedes that cloth masks do not provide any statistically significant reduction in transmission when compared to no masks.
  • Many adults have been socializing, dining, shopping, etc. maskless throughout this surge. Adults underestimate the impact of masking on kids who wear masks for more hours per day than most working adults.
  • There have been no peer-reviewed, randomized, clinical controlled trials on widespread masking of school children. About half of America’s school children already attend school with a mask-optional policy.
  • Pediatric mental health referrals have skyrocketed. Clinicians are backlogged for months. The risk of suicide, depression, and anxiety grow with each day this continues. There is a shortage of pediatric psychiatric beds in Rhode Island as a result of the mental health crisis being inflicted on children. Waiting causes more harm.
  • Mask-wearing difficulties in school result in punishments that we were promised by the SC would not happen. Mask breaks are inconsistent. This instills fear and robs children of the love of learning.
  • Although flu has been more deadly to children than Covid, we never disrupted children’s lives for the flu because we knew the unintended consequences would be too damaging. 
  • Masks impede literacy learning because children cannot see others’ expressions, mouth movement. Sound is muffled. 
  • State testing shows a decline in academic performance. Learning would be better facilitated without masks. Mask policies have dominated much of the school day, superseding academic instruction. Many children have reported losing the love of learning.
  • Children on the autism spectrum need to see facial expressions in order to learn social cues. 
  • Students who cannot tolerate masking for more than the hours in the school day have become socially isolated. They are choosing not to join clubs/activities. 
  • Students who are hearing-impaired cannot see other students’ mouths moving and are not able to understand the full exchange of ideas in the classroom. 
  • Students who are provided speech-therapy are currently masked. The teacher cannot see the students’ mouth movements which hinders treatment. 
  • Visually impaired students use a multi-sensory approach to therapy in school. Olfactory cues have been hindered, and glasses fog when children are wearing masks.
  • Students have reported bullying related to mask wearing. 
  • There are no masks that can protect our children from the intellectual, emotional, and mental damage that is being inflicted upon them daily. Our school policy must stop causing harm. 

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