No pushback on optional masking

No pushback on optional masking

Only one speaker went before the Caldwell County Board of Education on Monday to express their opinion on the latest optional mask policy, and it was to voice his support. 

Mark Gerson, who announced his plans to run for school board during his speech, said, “I thank you for taking the masks back to optional.” 

“I want to talk that they never come back, is my hope,” he said. “I could show you dozens and dozens of studies that show masks are ineffective, but let’s just take a look at one.”

Gerson then referred to a study published in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that included 90,000 students and analyzed mask use and ventilation in Georgia elementary schools between Nov. and Dec. 2020.

“They found that there was no statistical difference of wearing masks or not wearing masks. Why are we wearing them?” Gerson asked.

In actuality, COVID-19 cases in students were 21 percent lower in schools where masks were required, according to the study.
Though researchers performing the study did say the percentage was “not a significant difference,” the study did show that mask wearing has an effect. 

Gerson then went on to mention depression rates, suicide rates, and a few personal antecdotes that he believes illustrates the harm in masking children. 

“The CDC says nation wide suicide attempts are 51% during the COVID mess, now the only real difference is they’re wearing masks,” Gerson said. “They’re spreading fear, the kids can’t see each of their smile, they can’t sit together. They’re isolated and it’s destroying them.” 

While the CDC did report a 51% increase in suicide attempts in a study published on June of 2021, it was specifically in adolescent girls.

Researchers did draw a connection between the pandemic and increased suicidality, but did not make any connection to mask wearing. 

The authors of the study did not mention why young girls were more likely to be affected, but did mention physical distancing and school closures limiting connections to teachers and peers, barriers to accessing mental health treatment, increased substance use, potential rise in child abuse and anxiety about family health and economic problems were believed to be the contributing factors. 

After Gerson spoke, the board voted to officially revoke the mask mandate. 

Superintendent Donald Phipps said, “as I mentioned on Friday, by our board policy guidelines, we’re not allowed to adopt a policy permanently in an emergency meeting so we had to come back at the subsequent meeting, which would be tonight, for permanent approval.”

Before a unanimous vote, chairman Darell Pennell said, “though the board encourages students and employees and visitors to follow public health guidelines regarding the use of face coverings while in school buildings such use is not required at this time.”

“The use of face coverings is required only when on school buses or other school transportation vehicles…and shall only be required so long as the CDC order requiring such use remains in affect,” he said. 




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