Opinion: Masks Aren’t Harmless

by | Feb 7, 2022

Views expressed in opinion pieces are not representative of East Greenwich News. Read how to submit an opinion piece to EG News HERE

By Kristin David

I am a licensed clinical psychologist with a postdoctoral degree in child development. I am also a mother of three students in the East Greenwich public school system. Most would describe me as an old school liberal. I am writing to express my concerns with continued mask mandates for students in EG public schools.

I have always cared deeply about the wellness and health of children. I am lucky enough to have worked in a variety of settings, such as children’s hospitals, schools, family medical practices, and specialty outpatient. I delivered care throughout this pandemic and continue to be an active provider. As expected, initially, there was an increase in pandemic-related anxiety and grief, however, after 18 months the research is out: anxiety, depression, and suicidality are presenting at astounding rates in kids, all of which are exacerbated by social isolation. Recent published data estimates that suicide attempts are up 51 percent in girls. Are we really doing no harm?

In addition to the psychological toll, my knowledge of the development of empathy, compassion, nonverbal skills, communication, and learning raises concerns with the long-term use of mandated face coverings in schools. These skills, such as empathy and compassion, are not taught in a lesson plan. Instead, they develop over time in the context of relationships. Some examples, tone of voice, facial expressions, nonverbal modeling, storytelling, playing, emotion coaching and a whole lot of subtle interchanges. All of these are inhibited, if not prohibited, by face masks. Many argue that masking is a minor inconvenience for the good of everyone. However, continuing to mask students may not be a harm-free effort. It can negatively impact learning and may contribute to social, emotional, and psychological harm.

A long-term health recommendation in schools that takes little account of how children develop and what they need emotionally to grow is unlikely to be successful. East Greenwich citizens, regardless of whether or not they have a student in the schools, are wise to consider the long-term effects of limiting the amount of face-to-face human contact that children experience during school hours.

The potential societal, educational, social, and emotional harms of limiting human contact and social modeling are established. Policy makers have an obligation to be very aware of what children have lost and stand to lose.

Kristin David, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist, lives in East Greenwich and has three children in EG schools.

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23 Comments

  1. EGHS Parent

    Absolutely! It is beyond time our kids, and everyone else, get rid of these masks and return to normal. I also find it interesting that the disclaimer “Views expressed in opinion pieces are not representative of East Greenwich News.” is slapped across the top of this article but noticeably absent from most if not all other opinion pieces published on this site.

    Reply
  2. EG Mom

    Children have been required to bear the burden disproportionately of covid mitigation techniques such as masking. It is overdue that they be freed of this harm. Covid is now endemic and should be treated like the flu. Get vaccinated, stay home if sick, ditch these dangling “facial decorations” if you want to and move on. What are we waiting for?

    Reply
  3. Catherine rodgers

    Thank you for bravely offering your expertise to our community. It is essential that we listen.

    Reply
    • James gorham

      Comments such as the above are solely an attempt to score political points among wrongheaded town Republicans who think this is their ticket to getting re-elected in EG. The careful observer will always notice that comments such as these are always anonymous and:or come from people with direct ties to the town Republicans.

      Reply
      • Theresa

        Or it could be that people are genuinely thinking about their kids and how they would like them to grow up. If you were to ask me what my opinion was, I’m not thinking about if it’s the right or left party. I’m thinking about my kid and how they are developing. The world isn’t so black and white as you think. All these parents are not trying to get “reelected.” The careful observer will also realize that all the kids in school are wearing masks, yet kids are still getting sick. Why is that? Its ineffective.
        Most parents and kids are not scared of covid anymore. Kids and parents are still gathering outside of school wothout masks. Let’s open up the conversation about these mask mandates again

        Reply
        • James gorham

          Spoken from the person who is the head of the EG GOP.

          Reply
      • Denise Lopez

        As an Independent I appreciate hearing all viewpoints . It’s when people like yourself keep casting blame or making this a political issue we get nowhere . This shouldn’t be about party lines it’s about establishing a plan to move forward .Time to start working together .

        Reply
      • Joe P

        Suspicious amount of “EGMOM” etc. author couldn’t even be bothered to think of fake names for their comments. EGNEWS shouldn’t even publish comments by these anonymous cowards

        Reply
  4. EGDAD

    Finally someone who knows what they’re talking about

    Reply
  5. EGmom

    Fantastic piece. Where there is risk there must be choice.

    Reply
  6. Sherri Tracey

    Fabulous piece. Loaded with reasons to unmask these students. Will this be added to the EG News Facebook page as well?

    Reply
    • Elizabeth McNamara

      Yep. Probably tomorrow.

      Reply
  7. Anna Spiller

    100% agree. We need this to end. Parents can certainly choose what they feel is best for their child and their own situation. Thank you very much for speaking out.

    Reply
  8. Kim KINZIE

    Thank you for offering a professional opinion on what is a difficult topic. Unfortunately no solution will please everyone, but I do agree that it’s time to take the masks off. The kids have suffered enough.

    Reply
  9. Pete G.

    Is it possible a lot of the depression in our children is a result of the combative nature prevalent in our society over this same period? They are constantly hearing adults complaining and arguing on the phone, with friends and of course, on social media. Masking and social distancing of course are inhibiting development but to neglect OUR responsibility in causing more anxiety cannot be overlooked.

    Reply
  10. R Studley

    Thank you for writing this. I couldn’t agree more. It is beyond time to let parents decide what is best for their children!

    Reply
  11. Heather

    As a school counselor, I have been saying this for over a year now.

    Mask CANNOT continue for all students, especially for the younger kids who need to develop properly.

    The decision should be the parents choice if they really want their student to wear a mask. Most students are wearing cloth masks anyways, which have been scientifically proven to not be effective. So why are we still acting like it’s helping? Politics.

    Please start urging the superintendent, school committee, governor, local health officials, department of health, anyone who has a say in this mandate that it needs to end now.

    Reply
  12. D.

    Hard disagree. Keep masking until Omicron passes and hospitals free up. It’s not just the kids we’re protecting. Also, long COVID is no joke and hits kids as well as adults.

    Mother Nature always bats last, and she bats 1.000.

    Reply
    • Thomas

      It will just be a different variant. Covid is here to stay. Probably forever. Kids cannot be in masks forever. Not even another school year. Those who want to be protected got the vaccine. Masks are not a solution. Not even temporarily. Take the masks of our students

      Reply
  13. Lora Yeager

    Time to do something about it.

    Reply
  14. EG Parent

    I agree the masks are annoying and a pain but the kids hurt more from having to distance learn because of having to quarantine or a teacher having to quarantine. If masks should be a parents choice and that’s fine then sending kids to school with peanut or foods others might be allergic to should also be a parents choice. Not to mention much of this is political and those crying masks are so harmful to kids have no problem with kids having to do lock down active shooter drills. Smh

    Reply
    • Heather G.

      I could not agree more, EG Parent!

      Reply

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