Mask Mandate Petition
October 26, 2020
Randall Probst, Health Department Director
Wasatch County Health Department
55 S. 500 E.
Heber City, UT 84032
Dear Mr. Probst,
We are writing because we are concerned about the teenagers and children in our community with the threat of school closures due to COVID-19 and the recent closing of Wasatch High School. We are not trying to minimize the suffering that some have experienced as a result of COVID. However, the decisions and policies that our health department and government leaders are making in response to COVID-19 are not made in a vacuum. There are consequences to the actions that are being taken.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020. Lengthy time away from school often results in social isolation, making it difficult for schools to identify and address important learning deficits as well as child and adolescent physical or sexual abuse, substance use, depression, and suicidal ideation.”
Furthermore, According to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 5 teenagers are not able to complete schoolwork at home because of lack of a computer or internet connection. This technological “homework gap” disproportionately affects Black, Hispanic, and low-income families.
If you are fortunate enough to have time, money, and the sanity to dedicate to distance learning, your kids will most likely be ok. However, what about disadvantaged children or those who come from single parent families or if both parents work outside of the home? Distance learning then becomes impossible or causes a huge strain on students and families.
Mental health of students and society is also on the decline since March 2020. Suicide hotlines calls have increased by 600% since the alleged pandemic began. Furthermore, suicide is the second leading cause of death among adolescents or youth 10 to 24 years of age in the United States.
Additionally, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “SARS-CoV-2 appears to behave differently in children and adolescents than other common respiratory viruses, such as influenza. Although children and adolescents play a major role in amplifying influenza outbreaks, to date, this does not appear to be the case with SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19.” If teachers are considered high risk or are uncomfortable with having schools up and functioning, there should be creative alternatives in place for those teachers so that children can continue to have uninterrupted, quality education.
34,000 Medical Practitioners have recently signed the “Great Barrington Declaration.” The declaration states, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk.”
Sweden has had great success with this approach. Its Public Health Agency has maintained that the negative consequences of a shutdown on the economy, society, and schools outweigh the benefits. Although Sweden did have a higher death rate than some if its neighboring countries, schools and the economy remained open and it has had a lower death rate than other countries who had lockdown policies put in place including the U.S., U.K., Italy, and Spain.
Lastly we would like to address the fact that under Utah Code 63-G, Health Departments cannot make “public emergency” rules apply to classes of people and that any rule made must go through a period of public comment. No citizen of Wasatch County has been given a period of comment in regards to mask mandates, restrictions on businesses, or changes in schools due to COVID-19. These “rules” are therefore illegal. We assert our right to have our grievances be addressed in a timely manner. Please address these issues by contacting the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for your consideration of these facts.