LETTER TO THE JOHNSTON SUN RISE EDITOR: 'They are sending these kids off to the wolves with no mask'

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Hello. It is very concerning that RI schools are not protecting those that are vulnerable to the virus, children that can not be vaccinated along with the immunocompromised.

 They are sending these kids off to the wolves with no mask, no social distancing and no policies to protect them.  

No other option. Masks are only effective if everyone wears them.  They are made to prevent the spread of the virus, not necessarily protect the person wearing it. 

Not only is this plan unsafe,  but it is also unequitable. Kids that will wear masks will have no option for a mask break, have no choice but to be in close quarters with unmasked children and adults, potentially be bullied at school for being one of the few that wear a mask, anxiety about "catching or spreading Covid" and there is no distant learning option to keep our children and families safe. 

Kids don't have a choice to go to school,  so in order to be compliant with providing a safe and nurturing environment as stated in most if not all school policies, masks need to be mandated and policies need to be put in place along with an alternative for those who can't attend in-person for safety reasons to protect themselves and their families. 

Layered protection of masking, handwashing, social distancing and avoiding crowds,  are all evidence-based practices to protect children and adults from falling ill and to help stop the virus from spreading.  As a parent of a child who can't be vaccinated, a parent of one who is fully vaccinated, a daughter who lives with her elderly parents one of which is immunocompromised and a fully vaccinated nurse ... I am pleading to please make masks mandatory in school or offer distant learning as an option!

You gave parents a choice to not mask their child, now take the steps to provide an option to all others as others had before. Steps have been taken to protect Congress, state and local leaders, college students, healthcare workers and patients, congregate care settings and businesses, but NO ONE IS PROTECTING THE CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS!

Masks are the bare minimum that could be done to allow a safer return to school!!!  Follow science and evidenced-based practice instead of politics and parents that have every excuse for their child to not wear one. They have the right to parental decisions in their own homes and lives, but not at the cost of others and certainly not in public schools.

The school committees should be ashamed of themselves for allowing a handful of parents to determine the course of action in schools instead of looking at the facts. It is not okay to wait until there is a problem, prevention is priority. Most parents are unaware when committee meetings are for many reasons; poor communication,  language barriers, transportation etc.. In Johnston the school committee didn't list in the agenda that there would be a vote for masks and the return plan, only had the speakers listed that were going to speak on masking. They did it behind the communities back and let us find out online.

This is an unsafe and inequitable return. AT MINIMUM,  MANDATE MASKS IN SCHOOLS TO HELP PREVENT THE SPREAD AND KEEP OUR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES SAFE!!!

Evidence-based science and facts over politics,

Michele Pinheiro

A Johnston Parent

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