Masks in schools vital piece of fighting pandemic

On Oct. 21, the MSAD 75 School Board will decide whether to continue a requirement for masking in district schools. On August 16, the current policy was narrowly adopted. For the health and safety of our students, district employees, and their families, it’s hugely important that the current policy continues.

I do not envy the responsibility of our school board members. However, health and safety decisions cannot be a matter of opinion; they must be based on reputable scientific and medical expertise.

Studies issued in late September by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that wearing masks is an essential part of a strategy to stop the spread of the pandemic. Nationwide, “counties without masking requirements saw the number of pediatric cases increase nearly twice as quickly” (cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0924-school-masking.html). Simply put, masking requirements mean fewer cases of COVID in children.

Preventing COVID-19 reduces deaths and prolonged health consequences for those who survive it. Let us not risk the health of our children or our community by taking away one of the best tools we have.

It is the job of the School Board members to ensure the district provides a safe and healthy learning environment. Many thanks to the MSAD75 School Board members who supported mask-wearing in the August vote. I urge all members to vote to continue this policy on October 21.

Susan Stemper
Harpswell

School Boards have a challenging role to play in the midst of a pandemic complicated by politicization of public health measures like vaccination and mask-wearing.  The SAD75 School Board on August 16 voted narrowly in favor of requiring mask-wearing in school, in spite of many concerns about the policy.  But the Board will reconsider the policy at its meeting on October 21.

Many people find masks to be inconvenient and uncomfortable, especially when worn for long periods. Some have also questioned their efficacy in preventing the spread of COVID-19. But the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, our national agency for managing diseases, released in late September studies showing that wearing masks is an essential component of a prevention strategy to stop the spread of the pandemic and its disruption of school operations.  Nationwide, “counties without masking requirements saw the number of pediatric cases increase nearly twice as quickly” (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/p0924-school-masking.html). The evidence strongly supports the case for mask-wearing as vital to enabling in-person education without spreading the pandemic.

Protecting students and teachers from the pandemic while enabling in-person education is very important to our society.  I salute the SAD75 School Board members who have supported mask-wearing in the past. I urge all members to support such policies to protect our students, our teachers, and their families in the future.

L. David Brown
Harpswell

On Oct. 21, the MSAD 75 School Board will again vote on the district-wide mask mandate. I had a dream last night. I must share it with you and the six members, two from Harpswell, who voted against the mask mandate at an earlier board meeting.

I am lying on a narrow bed. A bright light glares down at me and I sense a calm commotion of people rushing around the room. A figure wearing a white mask and white cap moves into the light.
“Where are you from, son?” he asks.
“Maine,” I say. “Harpswell.”
“I’m from Maine, too! Crabapple Cove. My name is Dr. Hawkeye Pierce.”
“Where am I?” I ask, as a shooting pain rocks me from the side.
“Mash, 4077. You’ve been shot.”
A nurse places a cool towel across my head.
“Hey Doc, why are you wearing a mask? Can’t you take it off?” I grimace through clenched teeth.
“Well, soldier, there are these tiny things called germs, like Dr. Burns over there, and they can make you sick. If I wear a mask, I’ll keep you safe from catching any respiratory virus I might have.
“Don’t you ever want to take it off? It must be exhausting to wear it all day.”
I see a deep, deep well of anger form in his eyes.
“You know what I really want to mask?” he shouts.
The commotion stops and there is silence.
“My eyes! Someone please put a mask over my eyes so I don’t have to see the dead and dying anymore. Yes, please someone get a mask and make me blind!”
And then he starts sobbing and I feel a heaviness come over me and I fall asleep.

I urge all the anti-mask board members to now vote “YES,” like Hawkeye would. Continue the district wide mask mandate.

Witness this fact: 40,000 Americans died in Korea. As of Oct. 10, 2021, 705,000 Americans have died from COVID-19.

Gregory Greenleaf
Harpswell