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.

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Chelsea Callicott lives in Bend.

(8) comments

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Moderate

Writing this column took patience and courage. Patience, because of the need to explain the basics of COVID spread in a respectful tone; and courage because the people shouting down doctors at Board Meetings are intimidating. Thank you Ms. Callicott for rising up to the moment. So many of us stand with you.

kindergentlerbend

Thank you, Ms. Callicott, for your thoughtful, well-reasoned argument for the life-saving practice of wearing a mask. "COVID-19 is like a loaded weapon in which the child doesn’t even have to pull the trigger to do harm to others." Precisely.

Skittish

During these contentious times, it is apparent that whenever there is an argument, neither side actually listens to the other side. Therefore, it would seem logical that we should institute a rule that you cannot make your argument until you can demonstrated to the other side's satisfaction that you have understood their perspective.

The Pro mask side is essentially stating that it is quite obvious that wearing a mask will save lives by preventing the spread of a very contagious COVID-19. Children react and feel the way they do partly based on observing adults. Children go to school and potentially can spread the virus, consequently the school district has an obligation to do what they can to prevent lives being lost. Those who oppose this are fools. Everyone acknowledges that wearing masks is not particularly enjoyable. The school has an obligation to protect children, especially those who cannot be vaccinated. In every day life, there are many rules that we do follow for our own good and for the protection of others. Those who disagree with the mask mandates are trying to intimidate and school board meetings are not as effective because they are being interrupted. Masking is not terribly difficult, what 1 does does affect others, and there is a very contagious disease spreading throughout the population. Overall, choosing to wear a mask is a relatively wise decision.

The antimandate side, not necessarily anti-mask, are essentially stating that the primary job of providing safety for their children is the parent. It is up to the parent to decide whether or not their child should wear a mask, as it is for any other medical decision. A school, as a public entity, does not have the primary responsibility and must justify a decision to overrule parents wishes. It is not up to the school to determine what rights the parent has, rather it is the other way around. The school district must clearly and unequivocally justify their mandates and even in my opinion, they have not done a good job of this. I could actually make a stronger argument for a mask mandate than what I have seen so far. I frankly don't care either way if masks are mandated or not. While masking may be a wise individual choice, do the reasons for masking rise to the level of requiring a mandate? The benefits should outweigh the risks for children.

They argue that children have an extremely low death rate from COVID-19, which now is just over 400 children since the beginning of the pandemic. Other diseases such as influenza and RSV have a higher death rate and have never required masking in the past. This suggests a bit of overreaction on the part of pro mandate citizens as Covid is new and RSV is a familiar disease. They argue that people die WITH Covid and that the cause of death usually also has a comorbid condition. It will be up to researchers in the future to study what actually happened to determine if people died early than they would have from Covid, purely due to Covid or just coincidentally with Covid. Therefore it is difficult to say that wearing masks directly save lives of children. Mrs. Callicott just states in general that lives are saved but does not say at what point or whose lives are saved.

It is also true that anyone who wishes to have a vaccination has access, and vaccinations clearly do directly save lives and minimize severe reactions. To get or not get the vaccination is up to each individual. Therefore it is not the responsibility of others to protect those who do not wish to protect themselves. They also point out that if you have received the vaccination, then you are protected and are no longer at significant risk due to what others may or may not to do. We should not force others to do what is only in their best interest if they choose not to, at least without explicit justification, not just generalities such as "We are all in this together".

Another point of disagreement is that masks do not directly save lives. Their main intent is to slow the transmission rate which may save lives indirectly by preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed and not being able to treat everyone who needs treatment urgently or emergently. But saving a life is a much different statement than reducing the transmission rate. Because COVID-19 is highly contagious, it is inevitable that every individual will either develop immunity due to the infection itself or from the vaccination. Masks will not prevent infection in the long-term. As people have the choice of whether or not to get vaccinated, it is not a question of if one will become infected but when. In this way, masks do not save lives. The vaccinations are what saves people's lives. Given that children have an extremely low death rate associated with Covid, this makes it difficult to approve or mandate vaccinations in children under 12 as there are side effects such as myocarditis and blood clots.

Considering that children have an extremely low death rate associated with COVID-19, there is no clear saving of lives of children by requiring masking of children, cloth masks have been shown to not significantly reduce transmission, children wear masks inappropriately and for too long, and that parents have the primary responsibility in protecting their children, it can be speculated that the mask mandate has more to do with taking power away from parents and people in general. There are indeed some people who are controlling and wish to tell others to do what they think is best and not allow the individual to think for themselves. Or in other words, excessive fear in some does not justify loss of individual choice for everyone. Those who wish to virtue signal should not have the authority to curtail individual choice.

Finally, there are negative consequences to masks that the pro mandate side does not address. Children are developing educationally, psychologically and socially, and masks very well may have a negative effect on their development. This likely will have an effect on these individuals at least for the short-term and should be factored into the mask mandates at school. A measure that has questionable value and no doubt less benefit than is touted, but likely has cost, is probably not a wise choice sufficient to overrule a parents choice for their own children.

BuckeyeDuck

And, after reading your treatise, it comes down to you supporting the transmission of a virus that put the world into, and continues to keep the world in a pandemic state. Got it.

Skittish

Got it? Reread my first sentence. You have came to a conclusion based on a snippet of understanding. To understand my conclusion, you have to integrate several points. And that is the problem with both sides of the current debates we have going, whether its homeless camps, masking or CRT in schools. Neither side really understands the totality of points the other is making and misrepresents what is said, giving the perception that they aren’t being listened to or understood. This just ramps up the rhetoric, setting off more frustration and the faster we spin on the merry-go-round of insanity. It is somewhat humorous though.

What I did was summarize the opposing side as best as I could and then argued against all of it with the majority of my points against the mask mandate, as my mild preference is against mask mandates in schools. If we are going to move forward in a positive way, and avoid tearing ourselves apart unnecessarily, we actually need to listen and understand those who disagree with us. There is always something to learn: to wit, I now know more about the black perspective than a year ago, but I know see some blind spots in this perspective that I don’t think many blacks and whites are aware of. Listening and learning has to be a two way street and I am just trying to see if this makes sense to anyone else, which is actually my secondary motive for my treatise.

Yes, my “comments” are long and I do try to keep them limited. At least you read it, so kudos.

56414

Other long-term effects of Covid are worrisome in addition to death, so whether someone survives their bout is not the only concern. Also, if you're concerned about the "negative consequences" of masking, wait until you hear about the negative consequences of taking children out of school!

Skittish

Sure, taking kids out of school and then not putting them into some other venue of education would have negative consequences. Putting them into private education may actually be better, so it just depends.

So far as long term Covid, I am waiting to see if there is such a thing. People complain about “brain fog” all the time with everything, so the complaints alone aren’t convincing. I have several relatives who blame their “brain fog” on multiple different exposures, but they can’t all be true. My bias is to not believe such claims based on past experience. I could be wrong in the future, but I I don’t know of any condition that causes brain fog outside of conditions that have a known, direct effect on the brain, for example strokes, chronic traumatic encephalopathy or dementia.

But we should all keep in mind that the vaccination is highly effective and everyone has the ability to mask when, where and with what they want and to distance and minimize interactions. All of the tools necessary to protect one’s self are immediately at hand, which goes against mandates. Either the vaccines are effective or they are not and the pro-mandate people seem to immediately forget when demanding masking. Another point is that this virus is highly effective at transmitting itself and we are not nearly capable enough to stop it. If you can hold those concepts together, then you will start to understand why some are against the mandates. Personally I wouldn’t vote for them, but realize many people just don’t think things through like I do and will therefore wear a mask to appease them. Finally, in my opinion, the masks most people wear and how they wear them renders them ineffective, and be extension the mandates. Most people are just going through the motions to appear to be going along to get along, which argues for those who oppose masks to just go along. Masks do have some benefit, are easy to wear and one can choose something that is comfortable, but useless.

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