What I Said about Masks at the School Board Meeting

New blog post from @Kathryn_Applegate

After a school board COVID policy effectively made masks optional, my husband and I immediately wrote to the principal about our concerns. I was invited to share them at the next board meeting.

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What a wonderful, well organized and respectful presentation! I am sharing this with a superintendent of another Public School in our West Michigan area who is trying to help with masks. I’m going to share it with our office, too. As a family practice doctor, I fully support wearing masks. In our Christian School, only one other family wears masks besides ours, just north of where you live. Our kids feel the pain " but they do also learn a lot about integrity and standing up for what you believe, as I believe your kids do. Thank you

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Good effort, @Kathryn_Applegate

Sometimes all we can do is keep saying the same things, even when it feels like no one is listening.

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Disappointing that a Christian school would defy public health orders, but I’m glad that @Kathryn_Applegate spoke up.

It’s true that children are at much less risk of severe disease, but as we all have learned, co-morbidities are a gamechanger. A Nov. 2020 “white paper” analyzed data from the nation’s largest private healthcare claims database to “rank” the Risk Factors for COVID-19 Mortality among Privately Insured Patients. Two quick caveats: privately insured patients have better outcomes, and the data was compiled before the Delta variant became widespread. In other words, these numbers are about as “rosy” as they can get, and the picture is still bleak.

Across all age groups, the Top 4 comorbidity risk factors for death from COVID-19 were

  1. Lung cancer: 7x more likely to die.
  2. Developmental disorders (eg, developmental disorders of speech and language, developmental disorders of scholastic skills, central auditory processing disorders): 3x more likely to die.
  3. Intellectual disabilities and related conditions (Down syndrome and other chromosomal anomalies; mild, moderate, severe and profound intellectual disabilities; and congenital malformations, such as certain disorders that cause microcephaly): 2.75x more likely to die.
  4. Chronic Kidney Disease: almost 2x more likely to die.

The “forgotten population” in the school masking debate are special education students. “Developmental disorders” in the study can be translated as “learning disabilities” in the classroom. SPED students typically represent 10-15% of the school population, and they are at much greater risk of severe COVID. All across social media, I’ve seen parents of SPED kids who are scared to death to send their children to school, for good reason.

If giving these little ones a only cup of cold water to drink is worthy of reward, surely wearing a mask is a greater act.

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Our local school board voted to have masks temporarily a few weeks ago, but the vocal local crowd forced them to backtrack. Honestly, I have about given up on masks, now that Delta seems to be retreating locally, and try to encourage vaccination. I bet when the vaccine is available for school age kids, it is going to be a mess again in our region.

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Thank you for sharing your school board comments. I live in mid-Michigan, and have addressed my board the last three meetings. The two changes I see are a few more people expressing support for masks, and the anti-mask (and other interventions) group getting louder and making sure their pushier, beefier “members” show up, too. It’s astonishing what kind of junk they spout.

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Even without data for the final week, September witnessed a record number of children’s deaths from COVID. (AAP is American Academy of Pediatrics.)
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:disappointed_relieved:    

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Sad. We have seen too many die who did not have to do so.

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Indiana provides a pretty good picture of what happens when kids return to school without mask mandates.

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“As ye sow, so shall ye reap” comes to mind. Your principal and school board are playing dice with your children’s welfare.

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8 posts were split to a new topic: How can we be one again once this is all over?

Hi, thanks for your article. I understand it takes courage to put yourself out there in a controversy and I appreciate your willingness to do that. While I think that the efficacy of masks in closed quarters such as a classroom, and the level of vulnerability of children to this disease is much more in question than you would agree to my real concern about your article is that the conclusion doesn’t follow from your argument. Saying that you want to encourage Christians to “love your neighbor, wear your own mask”, is a far cry from “Love your neighbor, so we will use government to force EVERYONE to wear a mask, get the vaccine, etc.” Mask mandates, lockdowns and other extreme measures taken in this pandemic have had some scientific and medical basis, but public policies and utilizing the awesome power of government to force action, needs to be carefully considered in the context of costs and benefits, rights and responsibilities for a society as a whole. Too often government has leapt into action with no consideration for the ultimate cost and impact of the use of government authority to force compliance. In fact, it’s pretty clear that the costs of much of government action during this last year are coming at a far higher individual and social costs than are conceivable.

I think the point is to appeal to people’s better nature to do the right thing for the best reasons. What the government does if the situation continues to worsen does not reflect any choice by your fellow Christians who are asking this of you. Most mandates are not enforceable. Otherwise I personally would be for them.

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Welcome! I’m really confused about this freedom argument. If we were Israelites in the times of Moses, would we argue against God’s law to quarantine on the basis of freedom?
This is not a new thing, and it’s not only scientifically sound, but more recent folks like George Washington (with smallpox) and others enforced it.

700,000 people dead–nearly twice that of all US citizens in 4 years of WWII–argues that Drs Fauci, Collins and the WHO were likely right to try to stem a tide that would have been much greater. You might want to watch the Disney Plus documentary on Dr Fauci–one always worries about doing too little. Only time will tell what the right thing was to do, but it seems that those who did it, meant well and had much more insight than those who opposed it. As a primary care physician, the things that keep me up at night are usually “did I do enough” to keep people from getting sick, too.

I look forward to more discussion.

Thanks.


Addendum: I am so sorry–I appreciate your clarification. I completely misunderstood your position–see my response below. I fully support and agree with where you are coming from–that we argue secularly, not from the Bible. Thanks.

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Thanks. Let’s think about what a “mandate” is. It’s using the power of government to force someone who does not agree with you to take an action that they do not wish to take. It’s using the power of government to take away their rights to work, to travel, to purchase goods and attend school, live functional lives unless they comply. So, I think we need to be very careful about using our Christian principals to advocate forcing other people to do things that they disagree with,

Following God’s laws, and the direction from Jesus about following civil law, are separate topics. My question is, would we not be better served, in fact would we not better serve God as followers of Jesus, instead of advocating that government force others to wear masks and take vaccines and punish those who do not, to use the power of our God given intellect to persuade people of their safety and efficacy? Kathryne Applegate who wrote this article is obviously smart, well versed in the topic and persuasive. Explaining to others why masks and vaccines are effective, and safe, and answering concerns and questions is very powerful and a process completely in line with Christ’s own way of teaching others. Should I cite examples, there are many…

On the other hand, look at the effect that these “mandates” have had, and continue to have. We are being divided as a nation. Rhetoric about this being a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” blaming one group of our society (a process of scapegoating so old the linguistic roots are in the old testament) with one group lined up ready to punish and the other group lined up feeling oppressed and rebellious. I am sure we all play a part in that divisiveness, but I certainly don’t believe this is what Jesus intended for his followers.

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:disappointed_relieved: ………………….

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Isn’t equating a mask requirement from a private Christian school with a government mandate a bit overblown? Even a public school board. School boards (public and private) make all kinds of rules all the time, and they aren’t equated to government mandates. We need to keep some perspective here.

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“Love your neighbor, so we will use government to force EVERYONE to give up the liberty of driving on the left side of the road and drive obligatorily on the right side of the road.”

“Love your neighbor, so we will use government to force EVERY CHILD ENROLLED IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL to obtain vaccinations that protect our kids from the spread of deadly diseases like measles, mumps, and pertussis.”

“Love your neighbor, so we will use government to force EVERYONE WHO FLIES to have their baggage scanned prior to boarding an airplane.”

I could cite 10,000 more examples if I had the time, but I think you must get the point by now.

There is not a single thing that makes mask-wearing or vaccinations fundamentally different from any of the other government-mandated safety measures that we all comply with in order to love our neighbors.

In the case of coronavirus policies, there is a media industry that uses fear and loathing to drive people to anger and further media consumption, which in turn drives more advertising profits for said media. This happens across the political spectrum and across political issues; on issues besides COVID, it’s sometimes MSNBC instead of Fox. Joseph Kennedy, Jr., for example has been spreading a lot of anti-vax nonsense among liberal followers.

But the fact that media voices are swirling should have no moral standing in a discussion of the moral obligations between governments and citizens, in my opinion.

I certainly urge my friends and family to drive safely. But at the same time, I do want the state troopers to issue traffic tickets to those who endanger me, my family, and my fellow citizens through their reckless behavior.

To be clear, I am not advocating arrests for non-compliance.

My $.02,
Chris

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Hi Kendel, I appreciate your comment, the problem is the article mentioned vaccines and other actions. Again, if you want to argue that wearing a mask is a good precaution, great! If you want to argue that mask mandates, vaccine mandates, lockdowns, etc. are good public policy, well okay we can discuss those on the merits, many people disagree. However, arguing that Jesus’s instructions in Mark to love your neighbor somehow means we as Christians are commanded ask government to adopt these measures is just not true and not scriptural in any sense of the word. On another note, as far as perspective goes, we are clearly on a very slippery slope. As we speak 10s of thousands of people have lost their jobs, and 100s of thousands more are about to, due to vaccine mandates. I think loving our neighbor might mean thinking through why many of these people are either more afraid of the vaccine, or feel in good conscience that they cannot accept the vaccine, Jesus set a miraculous example for us to have empathy and understanding. Perhaps that would be a better step for us as Christians than reaching for the cudgel of government enforcement.

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“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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