With the school year on the horizon, it’s disconcerting that Harford’s public schools, like schools across the nation, are considering a resumption of their mandatory face mask policy and requiring little kids to wear face masks for 8 hours a day, from the time they get on the bus until they return home. The very good news is that Harford’s public schools will open on time and will finally join the many private schools that remained open throughout the pandemic without major incident – kids must be in the classrooms, learning.
I have spoken out over the past year as public-school children, unable to gather at schools, clustered together, unmasked everywhere but in schools during the 20 hours they were not isolated for “distance learning.” This made no sense given that kids are at very low risk of serious illness from COVID-19, most childhood cases are asymptomatic or result in a mild illness, and the great successes of the private schools in remaining opening full time throughout the pandemic.
Moving forward, we are all anxious to see school children speak without filters, smile openly, breath freely, make friends with faces – not masks, have their facial expressions understood, enjoy childhood, and be comfortable.
In my discussions with school officials, they appear to appreciate the vital importance of getting kids back in the classrooms, full time, but say that they are concerned with the possible increased risks of the COVID Delta variant and they see masks as a way to mitigate that risk so that in-person leaning can proceed.
My grandchildren and a dozen nieces and nephews attend Harford County Public Schools so these issues are very real and personal – not political – as nothing is more important to me than their safety and mental health. My requests to the schools are that they: act based upon logic – not in response to campaign rhetoric or political correctness, act solely in the children’s best interest, consider best practices employed by the private schools to completely avoid or minimize masking (open the bus windows, eat lunch in classrooms and not a common cafeteria, isolate kids within individual classes to minimize outbreaks, limit any masking to certain situations, etc.), be flexible and responsive to special needs, and take all reasonable measures to let our children be children.
I encourage parents and grandparents to contact the Harford County Board of Education before August 9th to express their own opinions on this important issue by clicking here.