As a former teacher at Meyer Middle School and now parent of two young children, I applaud the River Falls School Board for reaching the correct decision on requiring masks in schools this fall. However, this issue should have never been voted on. COVID-19 is an airborne virus that is prevalent in our community. We owe it to our kids and to each staff member working in our schools to take the necessary steps to mitigate transmission. Wearing masks is one of the few tools we have to stop the spread of COVID-19. To ignore this tool, especially with proven transmissibility of the Delta variant, is nonsensical.
Debating whether to mandate masks misses the point entirely. The real discussion that should have been undertaken at our most recent School Board meeting is what types of masks (or combinations of masks) work best and what methods can be taught to students to improve the performance of their mask(s) while in school. These important policy details are yet to be determined because the School Board thought it was necessary to debate something that should be uncontroversial.
Two board members, Lindsey Curtis and Amy Halvorson, opposed wearing masks in schools. I hope they take time to educate themselves about why this position has the potential to harm our kids and their families. The CDC has some excellent resources about the importance of masking. After a year and a half, medical research on COVID-19 has also progressed significantly. The CDC, World Health Organization, Mayo Clinic and many others have published reviews on this topic. This research is open source and easily found if you use Google.
The front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic are not in hospitals, they are in our community. It is up to all of us to protect one another. That means wearing a mask when indoors and unable to socially distance. Every time we debate nonsense, we miss an opportunity to detail and develop resources to help implement the few tools we have to ensure our kids can attend in-person instruction.