To the Editor:
I’m a concerned parent of a first grader at Connors-Emerson and as a health care professional working in our community. I believe the district has done a very fine job managing the pandemic this school year. The CDC will be releasing updated guidance regarding indoor masking, and many schools in our area are quickly dropping their masking requirements. It is of my opinion that this is premature and dangerous to our students and staff and that it is, in part, driven by the desire to placate the public and to “return to normal.”
Regardless of how the CDC formulated their updated guidance, the fact is that Hancock, Washington, Penobscot and Waldo counties are still areas of high COVID-19 transmission. Dozens of positive cases are being reported and likely a gross underestimation due to decreased state-reported testing, increased home testing and asymptomatic cases.
While deaths in pediatric and vaccinated adults are lower, especially with omicron, the growing data is showing that post-COVID complications, even in vaccinated people, are greatly underappreciated complications of the pandemic that can result in significant life-long erosion of health. We cannot predict who will experience these complications, so preventing active infections is still the best course of action we have through vaccination, masking and distancing.
Masking has repeatedly shown in peer reviewed published articles to decrease transmissions significantly in primary schools and other indoor settings. Most parents I have spoken to have said their children (this includes my son) have no qualms about masking, and many teachers also feel safer being masked in the classroom.
I think it is prudent to continue with our current masking policy for the remainder of the school year, as it is only four months, and then we can reevaluate the issue for the kids’ return in fall. I would hate to see masking dropped prematurely, resulting in significant outbreaks and a return to remote learning.