Editor's note: This guest column has been corrected to reflect what Dr. Brenna Lewis said.
As a parent, it is my experience that whatever we make a big deal about, our kids will react in kind.
On the public health front, many are expressing outrage over something that is proven to save lives. It seems particularly foolish to do away with the simple protection offered by masks as kids now make up almost a fifth of all total COVID-19 infections, according to Katherine J. Wu in The Atlantic. Dr. Brenna Lewis, a pediatrician with Mosaic Medical, reported last Friday that there has been a 1,500% increase in requests for pediatric COVID-19 tests locally in just a month’s time.
No one enjoys this return to masking, but common sense and the law require us to do so indoors. It’s the job of those entrusted with running our schools, the administration and school board, to protect the well-being of our children and school staff, especially as younger children cannot yet be vaccinated. To protect kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics has championed the same layered approach that protects adults: combining masks, good ventilation, hygiene, physical distancing, access to testing, and vaccines for everyone who’s eligible.
As adults, we use all kinds of health protocols daily and don’t make any fuss about them. We brush our teeth to prevent decay, use contraception to avoid pregnancy, and eat healthy foods to reduce disease. There is nothing controversial about masking unless we make it so.
To lambast and ridicule those entrusted with our district’s kids is akin to bullying, something we would never want our children subjected to. If students choose to vaccinate or socially distance, we must allow them to do so without criticism.
The school district is responsible for the safety of our children, and parents expect this responsibility of our teachers, bus drivers and administrators. Although as individuals, we have the right to bear arms, we don’t approve of students bringing a weapon to school because of the implied threat to others. COVID-19 is like a loaded weapon in which the child doesn’t even have to pull the trigger to do harm to others.
The disruption over mask mandates at recent school board meetings caused by a handful of unruly individuals does not reflect the sentiments of the vast majority of Bend-La Pine school district parents. Our elected volunteer leaders deserve our respect and appreciation for their willingness to serve in a position that offers them little personal gain in a setting that has become increasingly contentious and hostile. These leaders are sacrificing their personal freedoms for the well-being of all our kids.
Let’s let our kids be kids and mask up as they did last year until this time is over. And, who knows? The life you save, having your students masked, may be your own.