Op/Ed: Mask Our Children

by | Jul 23, 2021

Above: Photo courtesy of Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

By Marisa Kambour

Maybe you’ve seen the signs. There are the literal signs: “Unmask Our Children” sprouting up on local lawns. And then there are the less tangible signs of a mild unrest – the petitions emailed around, the arguments on social media, the ambiguity and lack of definitive policy on national, state, and local levels. Signs that point to anger, confusion, frustration and disagreement over what the return to school should look like in the fall. 

A promising sign in the midst of all this is the release of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ report “COVID-19 Guidance for Safe Schools.” Finally, doctors who are experts on the health of children are giving clear guidance for best practices for school this fall. Their report includes what will likely be an unpopular recommendation, but one the East Greenwich School District should follow: universal masking for all staff and all students over two years of age. This, in addition to other best practices to reduce transmission (vaccination, testing, ventilation, etc.), is our district’s best chance for keeping children safe in school this fall.  

Masks may have started to fade from memory for some with the shift to prioritizing vaccination. And while the COVID-19 vaccine has contributed to a significant drop in cases in countries and communities with access to it, a large portion of the student population—anyone under 12 years of age—is still not eligible to receive the vaccine. With a zero percent vaccination rate in this group, the chance of spread while unmasked in close, indoor quarters remains high. Wearing masks is a proven mitigation technique to reduce transmission that should be revived, especially as the Delta and other variants spread rapidly across the globe. 

Even for those who are eligible to be (and hopefully are) vaccinated – adult staff and middle and high school students – the AAP still recommends universal masking. Some will argue this is unnecessary since vaccinated individuals are far less likely to spread the virus. But will the district make vaccination mandatory for employment? For students? It does not seem likely at this point. Without a way to monitor vaccination status among the student and staff population, universal masking allows for consistent messaging and simplified enforcement. A teacher no longer has to remember the vaccination status of each middle schooler who enters their classroom throughout the day. 

It may also be time for a reminder that masks are designed to protect not just the person wearing them, but those around them as well. As the CDC states, “Multi-layer cloth masks block release of exhaled respiratory particles into the environment.” My child wearing a mask helps protect his classmates, his teachers, and his school’s staff. It protects you; it protects your child. If we truly care about the well-being of our community, then “optional” masking is not the best way to protect those around us. 

To be sure, there are parents who claim their children’s experience is hindered by mask wearing: that masks are uncomfortable, hot, hard to breathe in, etc. They may cite retracted studies to try and prove their point. But in the grand scheme of the pandemic, masks are a minor inconvenience that require a small sacrifice for a greater good. There are also those who state that high vaccination rates and low case counts are enough to forgo masking. The pandemic may be waning, but it is far from over. Stalled vaccination rates, unknown variants, new hotspots, rising case numbers: these are the signs reminding us that we can’t let our guard down yet. 

Most parents, caregivers, administrators, and teachers in our community share a common goal: to have our children physically present in school in the safest environment possible. Being in school with their peers benefits their mental health. Right now, universal masking is the best way to preserve their physical health. And East Greenwich schools adopting a mask policy in line with the AAP’s recommendations would be a promising sign of a community working together to end the pandemic.  

Marisa Kambour is the parent of two East Greenwich Public School students. This past year, one was homeschooled while the other participated in distance learning; both have been looking forward to a return to in-person school this fall.

If you would like to submit an op/ed or letter to the editor, contact [email protected]. Submission is not a guarantee of publication. 

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  1. Concerned

    I could not agree more! As much as masks are a pain, if we all just wore them a bit longer and got vaccinated, we could finally move past this pandemic! Well done Marisa!

    • Amanda

      Kids should NOT be wearing mask… kids immune systems are being destroyed by these mask…. this should be up to a parent not the school

      • Happily Masked in eg

        Can you share any research done on kids immune systems being destroyed by mask wearing?

  2. JS

    Well said Marisa, thank you for clearly articulating, with very rational and logical arguments, the path forward that is in the best interests of the health of all of our children, which is the most important thing in all of this.

  3. Common Sense

    I am a physician and completely agree with your sentiments, Marisa. The pandemic is not waning. We are in the midst of a 4th surge, with cases up by 180% and deaths up by 30% over the past 2 weeks in the US. The more transmissible and deadly Delta variant is the predominant strain, and both cases and hospitalizations are up among children. This is not a uniformly benign disease in kids, and masks are such a simple and effective measure to mitigate spread in vulnerable children under age 12 who are not yet eligible for the vaccine. I hope EGSD adheres to the mask guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

    • Chris R.

      It should be mentioned that many kids, our kids are 5 and 7, don’t mind wearing the masks one bit. The pick out ones they’d like to wear (dinosaurs? Hello Kitty?) and seem to have no problem whatsoever wearing the masks indoors or outdoors (as long as it’s not too hot or they are running around.)

      Seems the parents are doing most of the arguing about what is a simple, caring, act of public health, in the midst of a pandemic still with many more unknowns and curve balls yet to come.

  4. Mike

    This opinion is just that – an opinion. The “data” from the pandemic has proven that children are not at serious physical health risk. Period. RI now has over 60% of its population fully vaccinated. We know the virus primarily affects older adults with underlying health conditions. Meanwhile, much has been written on the emotional and psychological likely affects of forcing masks on children. There is no overriding public safety issue in my opinion to override hurting our children by forcing masks on them. Sorry, but it’s time… unmask our children.

    • Chris

      interesting that someone can comment on this article with ‘his’ opinion claiming the article which reflects the most current science is just an ‘opinion’ … couldn’t be more backwards right?
      I will add that there are cases (exceptions so far but they exist) with fully vaccinated people who have such a high viral load (50 times higher! Yes, that is 50.000 times!) that we consider them super spreaders. We are not out of the woods by far and one of the highest goals should be preventing mutations of the virus! We are fighting a super computer (virus variant generation). A responsible and sensible person errs on the side of caution and that is to wear your mask (protecting your neighbors and peers).

      • EG Parent

        So when will the masking end? The flu has a mutation every single year and kills statistically speaking, the same if not more people. Yet we didn’t enforce masks every year to stop the spread. Funny how now, we not only are forcing children to wear masks, but also forcing an agenda on parents to make an uncomfortable decision to vaccinate with a vaccine that has still not been FDA approved for them. Has everyone forgotten that we have a choice? Or has that ship sailed out to see with logic?

    • Happily masked in eg

      Unmask our kids is also an opinion. I haven’t seen anything written about the dangers of masking that’s credible and more than an opinion. Do share if you’ve got the links. If there is a danger in masking, then logically it would follow that the AAP has made a public statement that endangers thousands of kids. Can you explain why they’d make such a a statement if there are so many dangers as you mention.

    • Heather Larkin

      I can’t understand why some people think masks are hurting children. Sure, they’re not ideal. Uncomfortable sometimes but sometimes they forget they have one on. If having to wear a mask over the course of the (relatively short) school day for the greater good of society is the worst hardship they are faced with I think they’ll be ok.

    • EG pArent

      Mike – Couldn’t agree with you more. Masking absolutely affects children and adolescents’ social snd emotional health, provides a false sense of security that they are “protected” from viruses that can easily pass through them, and there is hard data that children are poor vectors for the covid virus, with chance of serious illness and death much lower than the flu.
      And when does this end? Masks this year? Next year? Every year?
      Our state vaccination rate is one of the highest in the country. It is time to let our children,, who are the population at lowest risk, return to a sense of normalcy in the classroom.

  5. Local Physician

    I am a local physician completely in support of the AAP’s guidelines for a full return to in person school and full masking as well as this eloquent and thoughtful Op/Ed. Universal masking in school will keep our children and school staff safer while protecting medical privacy and the vast majority of complaints about wearing masks come from a handful of adults, not the children and teens who have been living through the pandemic. I would also point out the risk of long-term Covid symptoms, including neuropsychiatric, cardiac, and respiratory complications which are debilitating and occur in up to 30% of all children and youth who contract Covid, no matter what their initial presentation is. It’s actually wonderful that a low-tech solution like masking can make such a big difference while we work on continuing to vaccinate all eligible members of our communities and we should take full advantage of it.

    • Gubbah

      There should be a distinction made between infection rates and the rates of morbidity from infection. Multiple studies to date have shown that children are not at high risk of severe infection. It should not be the goal to prevent all infection as this will never be an obtainable goal. Mask wearing and other mitigating measures only flatten the curve but ultimately do not alter the amount of people who contract the virus.

      • Anne

        335 kids under 18 have died from Covid since the beginning, and most or all of them they think we’re immune compromised! This is insanity and makes no sense. Also a study of 10 million disproving asymptomatic spread, which is the thing they had to keep up making us wear a mask “for others”

    • Gubbah

      I wonder how a study could make that conclusion given the rate of severe infection is low in children which would make it difficult to have a properly powered study and confounded by the fact the the participants would have other factors that could explain the pulmonary, cardiac and psychiatric symptoms such as the chronic stress of social isolation form being out of school for example

  6. Fed up in eg

    So let me get this straight. You, yourself, decided to not allow your children to attend in person learning, but you want to dictate how others’ children should attend school. This is a free country – you are free to keep wearing 26 masks for eternity if you see fit – but don’t tell the rest of us, or our children, how we should live our lives. The only pandemic that is still ongoing is still ridiculous pandemic of irrational fear. Children have virtually ZERO chance of becoming seriously ill from Covid, and all educators and staff have access to vaccines if they want them. This tyrannical fear-mongering over a waning virus with a 99% survival rate is absolutely ridiculous.

  7. Sarah NP

    Truly there are NO head to head clinical trials proving that masking is either beneficial or not. This is why DOH has left it up to the districts. If there was actual evidence they would act on it accordingly. The scientific community cannot guide us to answer this question.

    Do masks harm, physically no. However there are strong arguments that in elementary school children they are likely really ineffective. Compliance and hygienic practices are low in this age group and they turn into vectors of nasal excrement.

    The data we do have shows that schools are not a vector for transmission. DOH reported that for 2020-21 school year 95% of all cases were single transmission.
    Obviously kids were masked.

    For summer 2020, State of RI daycares opened in cities such as central falls and providence. These kids were not masked during a time of high transmission and 70% of all cases were single transmission.

    I spent all of March and April caring for COVID patients and given the choice would sen my kid unmasked.

    So what can we extrapolate? I think it it has to be we stay unmasked unless there is a high rate of community spread. It’s a shame no one had the insight to study this… Flu kills more kids… we have never masked for flu. Kids have a higher risk of dying in a car accident than covid. Adults have options to vaccinate and wear a mask for their protection, let the kids be if we can.

    That being said I think the decision should not be a superintendents, but that of a parent

    I favor family choice to send their kid masked or not

  8. Working in school

    From my observation working in a school setting this past year kids don’t mind wearing masks but at best they don’t wear them properly. They can wear it ok for 15 min at most. If you are trained at proper PPE you would know that hands should be washed after touching the mask, before touching the mask, the inside of the mask should not be touched. Masks should be properly fitted. Some kids come in the morning with already disgusting looking masks and then wear them all day, no way that it is healthier than breathing fresh air! Masks fall on the floor, fall outside, fall in the bathroom, get wet from spit and sneezes. They are taken off durning lunch. They are useless at best and harmful at worst. Also if the writer believes in masks why weren’t kids sent to school? Parents only see kids wear masks for a short amount of time, not all day.

  9. chezron

    From the New England Journal of Medicine

    “We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection. Public health authorities define a significant exposure to Covid-19 as face-to-face contact within 6 feet with a patient with symptomatic Covid-19 that is sustained for at least a few minutes (and some say more than 10 minutes or even 30 minutes). The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic.

  10. chezron

    Mask-wearing is not only useless but dangerous over the long-haul. The chance of catching Covid-19 from a passing interaction in a public space is therefore minimal. In many cases, the desire for widespread masking is a reflexive reaction to anxiety over the pandemic. The fear, and the overbearing response, to this virus has been completely irrational and unwarranted.They destroyed our life-sustaining economy for nothing, but now we’re told we must all wear masks forevermore or this ‘dread’ disease is going to wreak havoc again. No, there is nothing, absolutely nothing about our government’s response to this pandemic that has made any sense, so why should we believe them on masks? To put it bluntly, living life has always come with risks. I’d rather take a little more risk and live in a free society than live in a tyrannical one with slightly less risk.

  11. Rachel

    Thank you for your opinion, Marisa. However, my opinion is that it should be up to the parents to decide what is best for their own children and do as they see fit. By you saying that universal masking is what’s best for everyone, you are essentially saying that you know what’s better for everyone else’s child. I do not want my child wearing a mask for 7+ hours a day and breathing in his own carbon dioxide (a minor inconvenience, as you put it). I want my child to be able to pick up on social cues from other kids and teachers which is a huge part of emotional development. I want my child to laugh freely and have conversations that are not easily subdued by masks. But most importantly, I want him to have some normalcy and enjoy being a kid and not have to carry the burden of something that children should not have to carry. And for the argument of “They get used to it” or “It doesn’t bother them”, ask yourself the last time a young child has accurately been able to express or enter into a debate with an adult to provide a meaningful contrary viewpoint. These children trust us, the parents, to shape them and provide a CHILDHOOD for them and that’s exactly what I hope to do.

  12. Rachel

    It’s pretty simple. Mask yourself and your child if you are living in a state of fear. Don’t mask yourself and your child if you are not.

  13. Kim

    I am loathe to enter this conversation because these days it seems impossible to agree to disagree…. But I can’t help myself

    I have two kids, one entering Cole and the other entering high school. I cannot think of any good reason why the high school students need to be masked. They themselves are at a minimal health risk and, like all of their teachers and administrators, have had ample opportunity to be vaccinated. So the health risk is low, but the mental health risks …what are they? My child longs for normalcy. When I think of what it means to be in high school I think of first crushes and exciting experiences – both social and educational- that will be lessened if the kids have to wear masks. It’s not fair to them particularly if there is no good reason to do so. If I can shop at Dave’s or got to Disney without a mask, our high schoolers should be afforded the same rights.

    Now for the younger ones… I agree they don’t seem to mind wearing the mask so no harm, no foul, right? The science is inconclusive at this point so I can’t really have strong opinion myself. I have a child entering middle school. He – like the rest of our family – is vaccinated. If he’s forced to wear a mask he’ll be ok. But I hope it’s for a good reason. I admit I’m finding those good reasons more difficult to justify as adults can be vaccinated and risks to kids are so small. But it’s not that simple.

    I hope we can have a respectful debate on these questions as there is no good clear answer for our younger kids. But for our high schoolers….I see no good reason to mandate masks.

    • Students First EG

      Thank you for engaging in this conversation with compassion and respect. We all want what’s best. I keep coming back to how many high schoolers have younger siblings who can’t get vaccinated (and potentially family members who can’t either…not to mention educators who may be going home to unvaxxed family or immunocompromised family). Teens shouldn’t be lumped with young kids in terms of what we know about the spread of the virus. They behave similarly to adults when it comes to the spread of covid. I want to find a way to protect everyone. And yes kids will have another odd year but it’s better than last year and maybe that’s what we need baby steps to normalcy not giant leaps.

  14. EGMom

    Masking is a local decision based on local facts. The opinion piece speaks about the world in generalisms that aren’t really relevant to EGSD’s masking policy. Based on the low rate of transmission locally and high vaccination rates, EGSD should follow CDC guidance at a minimum but I do think unvaccinated children should be allowed to go without a mask indoors at this time. As others have pointed out, it’s a matter of risk tolerance and proportional solutions. My elementary aged children were in school full time last year and I can tell you they can’t stand the masks and half wear them at best. It impedes social development (how could it not??) and is frankly irritating. It’s been a glorious mask free summer for us. I will get my children vaccinated if my dr tells me it’s safe when they are eligible. If they still have to wear a mask – that will be a revolt. This has to end and we have to accept living with some risk of disease. RI is not Missouri – RI has done its part and the kids should be allowed to go mask free in this environment.

  15. Students first eg

    Yes, it’s a local decision and EG is doing better than other places. However, the people of EG travel out of EG, outside of RI, and outside of the country. Covid doesn’t acknowledge travel restrictions or check in on vax rates or public opinion. It finds a host and spreads. When you narrow this conversation down to local data you ignore that this isn’t a local issue but a global one. You don’t tame a global pandemic by focusing solely on your tiny little state.

    Kids are traveling for sports, vacationing, having sleepovers, doing much of what they did pre-pandemic UNMASKED with people who don’t live in EG. Plenty of EG families are and have been enjoying the maskless life for some time and school is probably the only place some kids wear a mask. From the comments to this op-Ed alone a lot of people are done with the pandemic and likely the safety measures that have kept us doing better than most. People who want to keep masking in place want to get to the finish line of this pandemic as much as the unmaskers but the former realize they don’t get to call the shots with this virus. Personally, I’d rather kids mask going in and take preventative measures to avoid shutting schools down again which no one wants. I mean isn’t that why a small group of parents mobilized and got a petition going and started a Facebook group? You wanted them back in school and instead of advocating for keeping kids in school or engaging in respectful dialogue, it’s your way or the fear mongering highway, am I right?

    People who want their freedom, want all or nothing even if it jeopardizes the most vulnerable in our community and that’s a problem. The people who say most of us are fine basically are saying the small percentage that get sick are a small price to pay to live life how I want to….you don’t want to be inconvenienced at all and if the price of your comfort is someone else’s health so be it.

    I hear what people are saying about kids not wanting to wear them. No one is thrilled to wear them. However, if our kids live to be 70, 80, 90 years old these two years in a mask are going to be a blip on their timeline. I’d also love to see the data (not a headline but a well researched piece of writing) about the dangers of mask wearing which matches or exceeds what we know about long-term effects of Covid in children. Masking won’t be easy but it’ll be easier than last year.

    And finally the fact that so many keep referring to people in favor of masking and continued mitigation measures as living in fear is pretty childish. Saying it over and over again and louder each time doesn’t make it true. It just convinces you of your own opinion.

    • Fed Up in eg

      Here is your well-researched data on just one danger of masking children: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2781743#pld210019f1

      This does not even touch on the psychological, developmental, and social impacts of these masks on children, which you seemingly discount.

      And I will say it again, because it’s simply true: useless mitigation measures are exactly that. Unless you’re wearing an N95 respirator, a cloth mask is absolutely nothing more than a baby blanket for those with debilitating irrational fear.

      Unmask our children. Period.

      • Elizabeth McNamara

        Editor’s note: the article cited above was retracted July 16, 2021.

      • concern for your child is not irrational fear

        I noticed that the JAMA Research letter which you shared was retracted – it should not be considered “well-researched data” re: an adverse impact of masking children. Clearly there are many strong emotions related to this issue and it has been a very long road since last March which contributes to the sense of frustration and anxiety on all sides. We all want to do what we believe to be is right for our children. Discounting each others’ concerns, however, is not helpful. I do not consider my concern for my young child, who is not yet vaccine-eligible, and who is an organ transplant recipient on lifelong immunosuppression to be “irrational.” Our family works every day to ensure this fear is not debilitating and to ensure that we and our older (vaccine-eligible and fully vaccinated) child are able to live as normally as possible in the circumstances. But please don’t dismiss our fear as irrational – and please understand our perspective that the sacrifices that we, as individuals and a society including parents and children, are all asked to continue making while COVID continues to present a real public health challenge are on behalf of the common good.

          • Students First EG

            Again the headline seems to support your opinion but when you actually read the entire thing it does not.

            1. The article you shared as evidence: https://principia-scientific.com/study-of-ten-million-finds-no-evidence-of-asymptomatic-covid-spread/

            2. The article referenced in the one you cited as evidence linked above: https://www.aier.org/article/asymptomatic-spread-revisited/

            3. Clarifying statement issued by author of the study referenced in both articles and linked as an update article #2 above: https://www.uea.ac.uk/news/-/article/wuhan-mass-screening-identifies-hundreds-of-asymptomatic-cases

            The author of the study states:
            “ Prof Song said: “What this tells us is that the infection prevalence of Covid-19 was very low five to eight weeks after the end of lockdown in Wuhan.

            “This work confirms that transmission of Covid-19 can be successfully controlled by well implemented non-pharmaceutical interventions, including face covering, hand hygiene, safe social distancing, contract tracing, and lockdown restrictions. Actually, mask wearing remains common in public places now in Wuhan.”

            However, the research team say that it is important to emphasise that the results of this study should be correctly interpreted.

            Prof Song said: “The asymptomatic cases identified in the screening programme in Wuhan were truly asymptomatic, as none of them showed clinical symptoms before or during their follow-up isolation.

            “But there is plenty of evidence elsewhere showing that people infected with Covid-19 may be temporarily asymptomatic and infectious before going on to develop symptoms.

            “It’s also very important to say that these asymptomatic cases were identified shortly after the relaxation of a very stringent lockdown in Wuhan that lasted more than 70 days. By then, the epidemic in Wuhan had been effectively brought under control.

            “The virulence of Covid-19 may be weakening over time. And it is likely that the viral load of Wuhan’s asymptomatic cases may be low, compared with cases in locations with a high level of virus transmission.

            “Antibody testing showed that almost two thirds of the asymptomatic cases had previously had Covid-19.

            “…it would be problematic to apply the results of our research to countries where Covid-19 outbreaks have not been successfully brought under control.

            “Actually, the existence of asymptomatic cases remains a concern even in Wuhan. It is too early to be complacent, because of the existence of asymptomatic positive cases and high level of susceptibility in residents in Wuhan.

            “Public health measures for the prevention and control of Covid-19 epidemic, including wearing masks, keeping safe social distancing in Wuhan should be sustained. And vulnerable populations with weakened immunity or co-morbidities, or both, should continue to be appropriately shielded.”

            ‘Post-lockdown SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acid screening in nearly ten million residents of Wuhan, China’ is published in the journal Nature Communications.”

      • Students First EG

        Okay one article that has since been retracted so any other evidence would be great. Also, no one has ever said any mitigation measure is 100% effective. It’s been made very clear nothing is 100% effective. That’s why we’ve had multiple mitigation measures so that combined we increase how much we’’re protected. Saying all masks besides the N95 one are useless is like saying abstinence is the only safe sex measure anyone should take. It seems short sighted.

        I’m not discounting those impacts on children. I believe they are manageable compared to what a child who loses a caregiver or has long term neurological impacts from Covid has to deal with. Even if one person in our community dies or gets severely sick is too much. We don’t know enough about Covid to have a clear picture of what it means for people 10 years down the line. How is life expectancy impacted? What neurological impacts does it have? What don’t we know yet because this is still an evolving virus?

        And yes kids will have feelings about wearing masks. As they should during a global Heath crisis that severely impacts everyday life and has seen millions of people worldwide die in a short period of time. As parents we should be helping them navigate that with compassion. Also, I’ve yet to hear of any child complain as much as some parents have.

        And again with the irrational fear of people wanting to mask because they want the pandemic to end and want to keep people safe seems rather hypocritical coming from people who are afraid of a small rectangle covering for their face because they want what they want when they want it (this last piece is specific to anyone who discredits people who wants masks as living in fear, anyone willing to discuss the issue civilly and with respect – this is not for you). It would seem one is more fear based than the other, no?

        • FED up in eg

          You want more authority about the uselessness of non-N95 masks? Okay:

          “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective at keeping out virus, which is small enough to pass through the material. There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is. And, often, there are unintended consequences — people keep fiddling with the mask and they keep touching their face.”
          —Dr. Anthony Fauci

          Let’s address this little nugget: “We don’t know enough about Covid to have a clear picture of what it means for people 10 years down the line. How is life expectancy impacted? What neurological impacts does it have? What don’t we know yet because this is still an evolving virus?” Using that logic, nobody should take a Covid vaccine then, right? We don’t have a clear picture of what vaccines mean for people 10 years down the line, nor we do we know how life expectancy is impacted, or what, if any, neurological impacts they might have, right?

          I am not against vaccines – I think vaccines, as opposed to masks, are an actual and effective mitigation strategy. The point is that you are using unanswerable questions as a measure to stoke fear about Covid. Talk about irrational fear….

          As I’ve stated before, you are free to wear your little “small rectangle” for eternity if you’d like, even alone in the car! It’s none of my business…similarly, it’s simply none of your business whether I do, or my children do. I’m not telling you or anyone else how to live, so don’t tell us.

          Lastly, you refer to civility? How civil is it to try to dictate to others how they should live their lives? You’ve stated that it’s not about irrational fear for you- so is it simply about trying to control others? So civil…

          • fed up in eg

            We have vaccines available to anyone who wants one. We were told by the so called “experts” that the masks, distancing and what have you were temporary measures until we have a vaccine. Now we have a vaccine that is widely available, so no, I will not be going back to the “temporary measure” such as masks. If the vaccines are effective as we’ve been told, then there is no reason I should be wearing a useless cloth mask.

            If the vaccines are now said to not be effective against new variants, then when will it end? Are we just supposed to go back to wearing useless masks indefinitely? What’s the end point? “Until we have a vaccine” came and went. Clearly the “experts” are just grasping at straws and making things up at this point. I’m not willing to just keep blindly following these “experts” and giving up my civil liberties over conjecture and speculation, and I certainly would never dictate to anyone else to follow these useless “experts” either.

            To bring it home, my solution is very simple: treat adults as adults and let them make their own decisions. My solution is to do what I’ve already done (get vaccinated). If your solution is to keep wearing a mask, great! Have at it. If it’s so effective, then you should have no concern about what I or anyone else is doing.

  16. Kevin

    I am not going to weigh in on the mask issue and I am not really sure what the right answer is. I have a daughter entering Cole this year and like every parent on here my only concern is what is best for my daughter and all of the kids in our community. There is so much divisiveness in our country and evidently it extends to our local community as well. It is disheartening to see a continuation of this rhetoric even on EG News – references to tyrannical behavior, sarcastic use of ‘quotes’ and condescending replies. It’s not productive and I think we are losing sight of the fact that we are literally all in the same boat and ultimately all want the same thing.

  17. Students First eg

    No one told me the vaccine was a perfect solution. No one told me masking and social distancing was a perfect solution. I’ve never been told these measures are 100% effective on their own. Together they provide optimal protection. Layered they provide the most protection. So it sounds like you and I have interpreted what’s been shared by scientists differently.

    We’ll never see eye to eye because what you want is to pretend the pandemic is over. You’ve offered no real solution for keeping people safe. No part of what you’ve shared thinks about what needs to happen to keep the person who can’t get vaccinated or who would very likely end up in the hospital or die from getting Covid safe. You’ve shared solely about what you want for yourself and those like you who are perfectly healthy. If you’ve got real solutions, I’m all ears. What you’re offering is essentially – let’s call it all off and go back to the way things were. Let the people who are high risk deal with it. The problem is some people won’t know they’re high risk until it’s too late.

    Also, this is how science works. Information changes as scientists learn more. No one is misleading you or purposely giving out false information. There’s no benefit to that. Sure it’s frustrating but certainly not surprising or shocking. I’d be more concerned by scientific recommendations that don’t change as more information becomes available. For instance if someone shares data from a year ago without appropriately updating for what’s happened since, I’m less likely to consider that reliable.

    Anyway, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/07/27/1021206558/cdc-expected-to-change-mask-guidance-for-vaccinated-people-including-in-schools

  18. CR

    It is NOT up to children to protect adults who are unvaccinated, especially those who choose not to get the vaccine. For those adults who cannot get the vaccine due to other healthy conditions, I highly doubt this is the first vaccine they have not been able to get, so they understand what their health risks are and should be planning accordingly. To say that children should have their childhood taken from them – yes, wearing a mask is NOT natural for children, no matter what any “expert” says- to protect adults who have options is just disgusting. It is our job as parents to do what’s best for our children. If you think that masking your child is what is best, ask yourself why you have never masked your child when the flu season went rampant and children actually got the flu, passed it to everyone (siblings, elderly grandparents, family members) their hands touched, and could and did die from the flu. In fact, I’m now incredibly appalled at all the years my children were in daycare and they would come home with every which illness available that winter given to them by other children. How DARE other children not be masked up since birth!
    Enough is enough with the masks for children.

    • Stidents First EG

      Childhood taken from them? They had an odd year but let’s not exaggerate that their entire childhoods are (from age 0 – 18) forever ruined by a couple of years of mask wearing. If anything it’s a parent’s attitude that determines how they will perceive this time. Again, I’ve heard way more parents huff and puff about masks than I have any child.

      To your initial point, this isn’t the common cold. This isn’t a virus that’s been well documented & researched to know what the possible effects are. We do know certain conditions can leave someone in intensive care or dead. So talking about how immunocompromised individuals should be solely responsible for their own health is careless and heartless. Again, if you only care about healthy people, just come out and say it. Stop hiding behind “masks are bad for kids” and just say it flat out – you don’t care about anyone but yourself, you’re done with the pandemic.

      Oh, you have a condition that prevents you from getting the vaccine? Sorry, buddy, that’s on you.

      Would the same be true if someone had a physical handicap? Would you say enough with the parking spots and ramps. Figure it out on your own.

      Scream it from the rooftops all you want but I won’t respect your argument until one of you can come up with solutions that keep people safe. If your solution is no masks, no social distancing, no testing, no nothing – then you don’t care about a solution or keeping anyone safe. You just care about getting on with your life as if a pandemic didn’t exist.

  19. CR

    Here is your solution. You do you and wear a mask. If masks work as well as you seem to think they do, then as long as you mask up, you shouldn’t catch anything. If I or my child decide not to wear a mask, how are you going to catch this deadly, awful variant that’s going around as long as you’re masked up?
    And absolutely, it is “on you” if you can’t get the vaccine to take care of yourself and take precautions. Who else should it be on? There are people out there with deadly peanut allergies, but you don’t see them telling people Hey, everyone who handles peanut butter should wear gloves! No- they take precautions on their own because they are responsible for their own health.
    As for childhood being 0-18, every age is important, every age has a growth factor. Masks are not natural for children at any age and if you can’t understand that, I feel so sorry for you. I’d like to see you wear a mask for 8 hours a day with a minimal break. I’d like to see you wear a mask and try to make new friends if you’re a shy, reserved child. I’d like to see you wear a mask and try to understand what a masked teacher is saying if you have a learning disability and may be too young to know it. I’d like to see you wear a mask and try to learn about social cues from other kids and adults. And finally, I’d like to see you wear a mask, be told you have to wear one, be given an explanation, and still not be old enough to understand why. An “odd year” to a child is eternity and the fact that you’re advocating for another “odd year” because hey, kids don’t complain, it’s the parents, is beyond ridiculous. It’s a parent’s job to advocate for their children and these parents who are huffing are doing just that. End the mask for children, now.

  20. Students fIrst eg

    No one is “advocating” for an odd year. Advocating would involve a person championing for “Let’s have an odd year!” Or putting up lawn signs, “Mask up for an odd year!” No one’s doing that. We can either live in the world as it is (reality) or as we’d like it to be. I choose reality. Facts – 1. There’s still a pandemic. 2. No one mitigation measure works 100% (you seem to misunderstand this but when you say I can wear one and then how would I catch it…simple -because it’s not 100% effective and no one has said it is). 3. Anyone can catch & spread Covid. 4. Some people who catch Covid will need hospitalization, possibly intubation, and may even die. Do you disagree that these statements are true? So I choose to live in a reality where these things are true and that means making choices for this reality.

    Your peanut allergy comparison is a fantastic one. Thank you. Most spaces that serve food have chosen to take precautions to keep their customers safe. Most businesses will make accommodations to make sure they don’t kill the child. For instance, they may wear gloves or use special utensils that never come in contact with peanut products, etc. At school, there are peanut free classrooms and tables. Food packaging comes labeled with ingredients & if products were made in a facility with nuts. And let me ask you, would you go around handing out PBJ sandwiches to kids? And just say, “It’s up to them to know if they have an allergy. So not on me.” If you say yes, then you don’t care if anyone dies. Yes, the individual is responsible for themselves. But if they haven’t been diagnosed yet then you’re saying you’re okay with them experiencing a potentially fatal reaction to figure it out. That’s the difference between being proactive and being reactive. In a pandemic, I’d choose proactive over reactive any day. It seems rather cruel to just say not my issue. Certainly no one is saying take on full responsibility but one could at least do the bare minimum to not kill another person.

    And I don’t know about you, but I spent most of last year in a mask for hours at a time. It was not easy but it also wasn’t awful. You underestimate how much a child can understand. If you’re telling your child we wear masks to keep everyone safe because we don’t know who around us may be high risk or live with someone who is or may not know yet that they’re high risk, I’m pretty sure kids far and wide understand what it means to protect another life. If you’re spinning the mask wearing with another narrative, that’s on you.

    You do you is irresponsible when it comes to public health.

    • the real Students First EG

      Please be advised that the comments offered by this submitter are those of an unknown individual and are NOT representing the Facebook group in the East Greenwich community identified as Students First EG.

      Although it is understood that anyone can publish on chat threads with a pseudonym of their choosing, it is interesting that several submitters have chosen to publish under a version of this name. It is unfortunate that people would attempt to confuse the community by creating false associations with a particular position as our community advances toward key decisions on pending administration plans related to school return and an upcoming School Committee special election.

      The Facebook group, Students First EG, exists to promote a Students First agenda within the East Greenwich schools. While this can encompass the current matter of student masking, Students First EG considers its mission to advocate for students in matters of academics, co-curricular activities, athletics, and social opportunities. Students First EG acknowledges the issue regarding masks has become complex, politically charged, and unfortunately divisive but must consider the collective impact on academics, athletics, social emotional health, physical health, and safety. While there is a diversity of thought on this subject within the group followers, the generalized position would advocate for a local administration decision that supports parental choice related to the academic and health considerations for their individual student.


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