Kristi Engstrom 0

Parent's Choice to Unmask Our Kids

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We would like to connect with staff members to discuss the recommendations and expectations being placed on children to return to school. The guidelines that are being recommended are excessive and may ultimately hinder our children’s growth and development, as well as suppress their immune systems if not exposed to antigens via fresh air, outside time, and group instruction.

These CDC guidelines are suggestions, and as they stand are excessive when examining true mortality rates especially in comparison to the influence of mental health as a severe risk to wellness with suicide as the number 2 cause of death from ages 10-34. These formative years play a primary role in self esteem and mental health with community and connection as key elements of support.

We understand this is larger than your personal policy, but we would urge consideration of this and the language of suggestion vs mandate and examine how isolation and separation may reduce development of important skills and characteristics such as empathy, collaboration, and trust which are important to confidence, growth, and the human experience.

Prior to sending our children to school, we want to confirm that teachers will NOT be wearing masks. The inability to see a teacher’s expression does not provide a safe or comfortable environment. we can’t imagine a reasonable way to conduct education and demonstrate pronunciation, empathy, and non-verbal communication without seeing full facial expression and mouths. We urge you to consider how face masks may spread virus and are ineffective at reducing. Please view this research review along with links referenced below.

https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m1435/rr-40

In a study performed in a randomized controlled Trial (RCT), it was found the penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97%. The conclusion of this study noted “Moisture retention, reuse of cloth masks and poor filtration may result in increased risk of infection.” Not to mention if kids are sweating whilst wearing a mask, the bacteria they will be exposed to could induce infection. You can reference this article here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC44209...

We also want to ensure my child(ren) will be given time to play outdoors daily. We are hopeful they will be able to touch and connect with their peers and feel encouraged to share and collaborate in groups. We are hopeful that you are able to weigh out each policy in a practical application and look forward to supporting an environment that nurtures our children.

Based on Prosper’s COVID statistics, we have a population of approximately 26,000 residents here, with an infection rate of approximately 0.6%. We’ve had one death, so a death rate of 0.003%. So, please, based on these numbers, and only one death (in an adult), all of the misrepresentation of actual REAL COVID cases, why don’t we implement a sliding scale cautionary system based on these numbers (for example wear masks only when transitioning between classes)? And how are you going to assure me that every parent is providing their children with a washed and sanitized, or new mask every day as well as instructing their children the proper way to dispose of their mask so as not to promote the spread of the infection? Every time our children touch their masks they are cross contaminating other surfaces with germs, not to mention possibly self contaminating themselves. There is a proper way to apply and remove the mask, called donning and doffing. It seems having our children masked all day is going to perpetuate the spread of the virus. Children will be touching their faces so much more with these masks on.

Another concern is when a teacher is wearing a mask to instruct students, her voice will be greatly muted. How will children in the back of the room hear the instruction? How will children who rely on seeing lips move to understand what’s being said be able to understand the curriculum? Being able to learn Spanish, watching how the teacher’s tongue and mouth move is a very important part of instruction when learning a foreign language. We fear our children’s academic performance will be affected by simply not being able to hear their teacher.

The strict militant recommendations of children not gathering together, walking one way in the hallways, some hallways being one way only is another concern. Not allowing our children access to bathrooms, especially important for children with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) is an unreasonable rule. Imposing disciplinary action against a student not wearing a mask is barbaric. These children should be allowed to breathe fresh air normally. Not doing so can trigger panic attacks as well as other disruptive behavior from not inhaling and exhaling as we should. Children with ADD that perform better after movement are going to decline academically.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, a traditionally cautious group of doctors, recommends children return to school. They stated, “a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for return to school decisions. “Science should drive decision-making safety on reopening schools. Public health agencies must make recommendations based on evidence, not politics.” The article continues to state that communities with high levels of COVID-19 should not reopen against the judgement of local experts. This would apply for the opposite situation if we have low levels of Covid, why should we place such stringent guidelines on our students? If a parent wants their child to go to school with a mask, it should be their decision.

It has been found in a German study that children are not the ones spreading the virus. It is the adults spreading the virus. ““The evidence suggests that children are less likely to become infected, less likely to develop severe disease and less likely to transmit the virus to other children and adults,” said co-author and pediatrician Dr. William Raszka Jr. of the University of Vermont School of Medicine. “It is wildly different from flu.”

Providing these children with a hot meal is also very important as it might be the only hot meal they get for breakfast and lunch. Pre-packaged meals are not a healthy alternative for our children. Again, the overall health and wellness of our children is obviously not being placed as a priority.

OSHA has laws regulating the oxygen levels in facilities requiring masks to be worn. There are architectural standards required in commercial buildings regarding sufficient oxygen levels when masks are required to be worn. The air exchange requirements are much greater than in a regular room where masks aren’t required. Testing is done to be sure the air quality is sufficient. Temperature and humidity is controlled because that also affects oxygen levels. Will there be new standards implemented for increased oxygen levels within the schools to counter the decreased levels of oxygen being breathed in due to the wearing of masks over noses and mouths? It is imperative you review the OSHA Standards for people required to wear masks (also known as respirators) because if we are going to require our children to wear masks all day, we must take measures to accommodate for decreased oxygen inhalation. Before an employer can require an employee to wear a mask, an extensive questionnaire is answered. As you can see, even if a person has had asthma, allergies or other respiratory issues either past or present, it is recommended they seek medical attention before wearing a mask, which should also be fitted and of appropriate material for the environment they are working. Recommending a blanket statement, one-size-fits-all mask mandate is extremely irresponsible. The OSHA standards can be seen here: https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standar...

In order to comply with the prevention of cross contamination, it would be safe to assume that each child should be disposing of their mask every time they take it off or touch their face. Is the school going to provide a fresh, new mask for kids? It is unrealistic to assume that every family can provide multiple masks for multiple kids every day. Each child should be throwing away their mask before they enter a new classroom and donning a new mask to prevent cross contamination upon entry into the classroom. This is also assuming they are going to be taught how to properly remove and reapply their mask safely. There are families in Prosper that will not be able to afford this extra expense, so to put this extra financial pressure on these families is shameful. If we are mandating masks so as to “protect others” and reduce the spread of the virus, it must be done correctly to prevent cross contamination.

As of July 31, 2020, Governor Abbott has stated that the authority to decide when the school year will begin lies with the local school boards, which we applaud PISD for opening as scheduled. He also stated the school boards have the ability to base their decisions on advice and recommendations by local public health authorities, but are not bound by those recommendations. We strongly recommend reconsidering the mask mandates for our children going back to in-class learning. It should be the choice of the parents to mask their child. We would suggest holding another school board meeting, inviting parents to attend via zoom so we can voice our concerns. Again, we are excited to have our children to return to school; however, there are many parents that are very worried and concerned about their children wearing masks all day, the disciplinary action that will be taken if they don’t wear a mask, and the unknown medical conditions that could arise as a result of being required to wear a mask all day (OSHA recommends wearing a mask no more than 5 hours a day). An option to consider would be a waiver for parents to sign accepting full responsibility if their child gets sick, and not hold the school responsible. We think a lot of parents would happily sign said waiver.

Our last concern is the use of toxic chemicals in our schools to disinfect. Harmful ammonium quaternary compounds (or “quats”) can often be found in disinfecting wipes like Clorox or Lysol that are commonly used in schools. Quats have serious health concerns for anyone who uses them (teachers, children, janitors) including:

  • Quats are potent skin irritants and can cause rashes and dermatitis.
  • Quats can irritate the lungs leading to breathing problems.
  • Cleaning workers/janitors exposed regularly to quats have developed occupational asthma.
  • Quats are linked to reproductive harm, potentially affecting fertility, and possibly leading to birth defects.
  • Widespread use of quats is contributing to the global problem of antimicrobial resistance, leading to the development of “superbugs” that cannot be controlled with antibiotics. (You can find citations to the scientific studies supporting these findings here.)

We hope the district will consider adopting a policy that requires the use of safer alternatives, that are still effective in killing Covid-19. In addition, teachers can support this effort when they develop back to school supply lists by specifying purchasing disinfecting wipes that contain hydrogen peroxide or lactic acid (Clorox and Lysol both make wipes containing these safer alternatives).

Lastly, you can easily find a plethora of medical documents supporting our concerns with regards to masks not working, as well as posing a health concern/risk if worn. You can find one such document by Dr. Colleen Huber here: https://www.primarydoctor.org/masks-not-effect

General breakdown of why masks don’t work:

1. They provide a false sense of security and people misuse them, driving more potential for infection. The warm vapor of your breathing when wearing a mask pushes vapor to your eyes driving more likelihood of touching your eyes which can spread contagion. Essential workers often wear them into the restroom and then touch their masks as they take your food order, oral-fecal contamination risk!2. They interfere with respiratory function and your immune system’s regulation as a barrier defense. You are not able to exhale fully to expel any potential pathogen that you may have contracted; this can push viral load deeper into the pulmonary system.3. They can drive excessive epinephrine and cortisol as an anxiety and stress response, and the shallow rapid breath mimics sympathetic nervous system response which can drive stress chemical release. The individual may experience palpable anxiety and panic. Note: these compounds when released in excess hinder the function of your immune system!4. Asymptomatic carriers are very unlikely to spread infection, per WHO June 8th 2020, the recommendation is back to “if sick stay at home;” the masks merely represent fear, control, and compliance.5. They create separation and dehumanize us. Especially in the constructs of education and connection with children who are very low risk for COVID mortality but are vulnerable for fear, shame, depression, and mental health. CDC states ages 10-34 the number 2 cause of death is suicide! For many children, the hugs and smiles they get from teachers are the only ones they get.


References

  1. DHS S&T Research & Development Response to SARS-CoV-2 https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/panthr_covid-19_fact_sheet_42420.pdf
  2. Offeddu, V., Yung, C.-F., Low, M., & Tam, C. (2016). Effectiveness of masks and respirators against respiratory infections in healthcare workers: A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Infectious Diseases, 53, 27. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29140516/
  3. Seongman Bae, MD, et. al., Effectiveness of Surgical and Cotton Masks in Blocking 5. SARS-CoV-2: A Controlled Comparison in 4 Patients, Annals of Internal Medicine, 6 April 2020, https://doi.org/10.7326/M20-1342
  4. Coronavirus: Face masks could increase risk of infection, medical chief warns https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-news-face-masks-increase-risk-infection-doctor-jenny-harries-a9396811.html
  5. Gao, Ming et al. A study on infectivity of asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers. Respiratory medicine, vol. 169 106026. 13 May 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7219423/
  6. Michael Klompas, M.D., M.P.H., et al. Universal Masking in Hospitals in the Covid-19 Era, New England Journal of Medicine, 21 May 2020 https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2006372?query=TOC
  7. Covid-19 Pandemic Planning Scenarios https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/planning-scenarios.html
  8. Northwestern University. Vitamin D levels appear to play role in COVID-19 mortality rates: Patients with severe deficiency are twice as likely to experience major complications. ScienceDaily, 7 May 2020. sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200507121353.htm
  9. American Academy of Pediatrics 07/10/2020 https://services.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2020/pediatricians-educators-and-superintendents-urge-a-safe-return-to-school-this-fall/

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