Nonsense in School Covid Policies

Given the known harms caused by masking toddlers and the impossibility of a 3-year-old wearing a mask effectively, one might ask: What are we doing?

AP/Brittainy Newman, file
Students wearing masks on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. AP/Brittainy Newman, file

This fall, students of all ages will face the fourth year in a row of disrupted schooling.  In Philadelphia, all public (not private) pre-K students will be required to mask in school at all times, including while outside.  In Headstart programs across the country, all 3- to 5-year-olds will also be required to mask for the entire school year. 

The youngest children, at the least risk from any harm due to Covid, are just learning to speak. They are learning to connect to friends and teachers. Facial expressions are key to making those connections, despite the American Academy of Pediatrics removing any trace of this fact from their website. Many of these little ones still wear diapers, yet are expected to wear a mask “correctly” for eight hours a day. 

Masks impede communication and are educationally, developmentally, and emotionally detrimental for young children. Two studies from the Rhode Island Hospital and the LENA Foundation found that babies born in the last two and a half years vocalize less and engage in verbal interactions less than their pre-2020 counterparts. As these babies grow, they will be less prepared for school than their older brothers and sisters, who spent their earliest years without restrictions impeding learning and communication. 

Given the known harms caused by masking toddlers and the impossibility of a 3-year-old wearing a mask effectively, one might ask: What are we doing? 

It’s not just the youngest learners who are restricted. College students at NYU and Columbia are required to be vaccinated and boosted to attend school this year, despite being at the highest risk for adverse side effects like myocarditis — and at little to no risk of severe illness from Covid. 

College students at Rutgers and Stanford will be required to be masked in all educational settings this year. That’s on top of a booster mandate. Just down the road from Stanford, at Google, employees are no longer required to be vaccinated, boosted, or wear masks. Yet the students on Stanford campus must do all of these to be able to attend.  

Has Stanford considered how a deaf student can communicate and learn in a setting where voices are muffled, and lip-reading is impossible? Or any student, really?

Some colleges — Bowdoin, Wake Forest — have gone so far as to mandate a vaccine (the bivalent Covid vaccine) that isn’t even on the market yet. It’s not yet authorized, but students are required to take it as soon as it becomes available. Has any other medication been required before it is even a reality?

States such as Washington have dropped the booster mandate for state workers, and New Jersey’s governor dropped the testing mandate for unvaccinated workers. New Jersey state workers are treated the same as vaccinated workers now.

That is per the CDC’s new guidelines, which recognize that vaccinated people can get infected and spread Covid and that there are high levels of natural immunity in the community providing a level of protection. Yet students at Rutgers, a New Jersey state university, do not enjoy the same sense of normalcy that New Jersey state workers are afforded. 

Why aren’t all colleges doing the same thing as Google and Governor Murphy? Universities, if you’re going to mandate a medical intervention in violation of the fundamental right to medical choice, it must be based on incontrovertible medical necessity. Covid college vaccine mandates come nowhere near meeting this standard.

Even more unscientific and appalling, New York City public school students who are not vaccinated are not permitted to play sports. This decision was made by Mayor Adams even though the rate of obesity in children rose more than 15 percent in the past two years and Body Mass Index growth rates doubled.

One of the study’s authors, Alyson Goodman of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, described the results as “substantial and alarming.” Kyrie Irving, who is unvaccinated, can play for the Nets with 17,000 fans in attendance at Brooklyn’s Barclay Center, but unvaccinated kids can’t play basketball for their NYC middle schools. 

Recently, in Mountain View, California, the principal at Theuerkauf Elementary School called the police on a 4-year-old child who showed up to transitional kindergarten without a mask. There is no statewide mask mandate in California, nor is there a county mask mandate in Santa Clara County, where Mountain View is located. 

Since March 2020, our society has placed the most onerous restrictions on children and young adults. And we continue to do so. Those most likely to be harmed by restrictions and least likely to be harmed by Covid are the ones carrying the harshest burden.  

Parents: Your voices matter. Stand up for your children. For all children. They need us. Be their voice. Do it now.  

The New York Sun

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