Freedom of choice Masks optional 0

Byram residents for MASK CHOICE

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Dear Mr. John Fritzky, and the Byram Township Board of Eduction members, Mary Ann Risley, Charles Kranz, Kathleen Walsh, Kristy McFarlane, Julie Lucente, James McBain, Allyson Botto

This petition is in response to your email sent August 6, 2021. In this letter, you stated “Today, Governor Murphy issued executive order 251, which will require all students and staff members to wear a mask while inside of school. This executive order goes into effect Monday, August 9th. Any students or staff members involved in our Extended School Year, or Summer Academies will need to wear a mask while indoors starting Monday. While this news may frustrate some, and provide a sense of relief to others, it does not affect the Byram School District’s number one goal of providing full-day, in-person instruction to our students.”

You have been proactive in soliciting feedback from the learning community via the parent academy zoom meetings . The community at large has been overwhelmingly supportive of a normal Full day, in-person, mask-optional return. This is further evidenced by the return of unmasked children to summer learning, camps, and sports both in- and outdoors. Based on the decisions mentioned above, it appears the Board and District are in support of a mask-optional learning environment being in the best interest of our students, staff and learning community. We were and still are in full support of the resolution sent via email on July 1st to give choice to parents regarding masking. We are asking you now to stay the course and keep masking optional in our schools.

The governor's most recent order fails to show any true emergency or need for these extreme measures on our school children. He speaks to an "uptick" and an increase in cases but does not identify any information that would even remotely suggest a state of emergency to justify masking children in New Jersey's schools. Lacking any true basis for these orders the governor is acting without regard to the true needs of children who are still learning to communicate, learning emotions, and struggling with all the complexities of childhood. They do not need the burden of masking, face covering and all of the other extreme measures we've placed upon children while leaving all other aspects of life in New Jersey untouched by such regulations. The possible psychological harm of widespread masking is an even greater worry. Facial expressions are integral to human connection, particularly for young children, who are only learning how to signal fear, confusion and happiness. Covering a child’s face mutes these nonverbal forms of communication and can result in emotionless interactions, anxiety and depression. Seeing people speak is a building block of phonetic development. It is especially important for children with disabilities.

We implore you as a District to use your power to request a STAY in opposition to the Governor's EO 251 and/or demonstrate a peaceful and willful disobedience by letting parents and staff members make their own decisions regarding masking. We ask that you formally and publicly voice your disagreement to this mandate which not only removes flexibility in local decision making from our Board of Education and takes power away from our District, but also takes the choice regarding bodily autonomy and healthcare of our students and staff away from parents and the individual, and instead, makes them a matter of the State of New Jersey. We implore you to take back and assert local decision making and authority for Byram Township School District.

Choices regarding health are a civil right grounded in the bodily autonomy, dignity, and privacy of the individual. Furthermore, one of the most valuable rights our children have under the Constitution is the right to receive a free and fair public education.

There are no long-term safety trials or clinical studies for daily mask use by children. In turn, there are studies showing that Covid is rarely transmitted in school and that children are at extremely low risk for both illness and transmission. A retrospective study across several states did not find sufficient correlation of mask mandates as a successful disease mitigation tool.

Symptoms reported from mask use within our own children include:

  • Headaches, migraines
  • Lethargy, fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath
  • Bloody nose
  • Skin lesions, rashes, and acne on the face, breakdown behind the ears
  • Poor dentition – increased cavities, mouth sores, abscesses, canker sores
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Cognitive decline
  • Mental health issues, including anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty learning
  • Heat exhaustion, heat-related illness

We love our schools and we pay dearly to give our children the opportunity of a Byram Strong education. We pay for local control of our schools and believe that the ultimate decision-makers should be our families and staff members for themselves and their children. Please use your power to request a stay against mandatory masking and preserve masking choices for our learning community.

Thank you,

Concerned Parents/Guardian and Taxpayers of the Byram Township School District

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