Concerned Parents/ Guardians and Taxpayers of Sparta, NJ Sparta 0

Petition for Mask Choice in Sparta Township Public Schools

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August 9, 2021

Dear Mr. Beck and Sparta Board of Education, Ms. Bragg, Ms. Grano, Mr. McGovern, Mr. Morris, Mr. Palleschi, Ms. Selander, Dr. Serrano, Ms. Sorensen and Dr. Zywicki,

This petition is a response to your letter to the Sparta learning community dated August 6, 2021. In this letter, you stated “This mandate and Executive Order (Referring to Executive Order (EO) 251) does not allow individual districts flexibility in making their own decisions regarding masks.” On May 27, 2021, the board unanimously passed a resolution asking Governor Murphy to “expand Executive Order No. 241” and unmask our children in schools. On June 29, 2021 we received notice that, “Effective July 1, 2021, masks will be optional for all students and staff participating in our Extended Learning Program as well as our Extended School Year program.” and “Based on the new guidance it is anticipated, barring unforeseen circumstances, that masks will remain optional into and through the 2021-2022 school year.” Up until Governor Murphy’s release of EO 251, the July 28, 2021 communication to parents said that “Governor Murphy continues to state that decisions regarding masks for the 2021-2022 school year can and will continue to be made by individual districts.”

Furthermore, you have been proactive in soliciting feedback from the learning community. The community at large has been overwhelmingly supportive of a normal, 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 made on May 27th to give choice to parents regarding masking. We are asking you now to stay the course and keep masking optional in our schools.

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 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 Sparta Township Public Schools.

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 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 Spartan 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 Sparta Public School Students

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