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 Maine School Administrative District 75 school board on Aug. 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 Oct. 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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, our national agency for managing diseases, released in late September studies showing that mask-wearing 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” (tinyurl.com/ykxpkzuc). 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 MSAD 75 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.
David Brown, Harpswell