This morning we reported that the Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) will be considering the future of their mask policy. In a letter to parents, Superintendent, Noreen Bush, wrote:
"Dear CRCSD Families,
This communication is regarding the conversations around student masking recommendations that have surfaced across our state and community. Cedar Rapids Community School District has aligned our masking policy with Linn County Public Health Department and the Center For Disease Control (CDC) during the pandemic. The Iowa Department of Public Health shared information late Friday afternoon, May 15th, that they are recommending masks as optional for students.
Given the timing of the communication from the Iowa Department of Public Health late Friday afternoon, our district has not had an opportunity to collaborate with Linn County Public Health or receive any new information from the CDC. We will be working diligently early in the week to get the best information available regarding our community and the next steps regarding mask wearing for students.
We will have a decision communicated to our families by the afternoon of Wednesday, May 19th, regarding our student masking policy for the duration of the school year. In the meantime, our mask mandate will remain the same until we have further information.
There are 14 remaining school days and we plan to focus our efforts on supporting and educating our students through a smooth end of the school year.
Thank you for your ongoing support,
In the short term, I'm of the mind that 14 days more really won't make a difference. However, there is a larger thought at work here; what are we teaching our kids about science and how the different governmental entities work together...or do not work together. Recently, COVID vaccines were approved for emergency use on children aged 12-16. Why they were given "emergency use," is beyond me, as we a rapidly ramping down the number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Specifically, numbers from the CDC show an incredibly small number of deaths in the age group 17 years of age and younger.
CDC statistics show approximately 42,500 Americans aged 17 and below died between January 1, 2020 and May 5, 2021. Those are overall deaths for all reasons. While we all mourn the deaths that have happened due to COVID (and all other purposes, as a matter of fact), the statistics show only 282 deaths of that same age group and from the same time frame were attributable to COVID. That comes out to 2/3rds of one percent. Other studies have shown that those of the same age don't shed the virus aggressively, and that most COVID infections are asymptomatic.
Nationally, leaders of teachers unions HAD been almost militant in their push back against governmental leaders, some even demanding that ALL students must be vaccinated before schools are fully reopened to face-to-face learning. Their demands also included tens of millions of dollars to be spent on "improving" air flow in classrooms, and other COVID-based improvements, most of which would come from the federal government, aka, taxpayers.Then, the entire federal government turned on a dime.
President Joe Biden announced that the CDC had rewritten their recommendations, and they now said that vaccinated individuals do not have to mask up indoors or outdoors, except for extremely crowded situations. A modern classroom does not, in my opinion, qualify as such. Meanwhile, CDC Director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, had a whiplash moment. Within days of testifying before Congress that she could not send her teenage son to summer camp, she seemed to pull a 180 and made the mask/vaccine announcement. In tandem, teachers unions announced they expected schools to fully reopen this fall.
So, the CDC's credibility issue (and the President's, and the teacher's unions, and many many other governmental entities, as well) has the chance to drop down to the local level. Superintendent Bush is a cancer survivor. She is an incredibly kind and considerate person. She had been at high risk of infection, hospitalization and death due to COVID. I know several of the members of the Board of Education, and they are thoughtful and considerate people. I am hopeful they consider the science involved, the fact that all of the teachers have had the chance to get a vaccine, and I hope they make the proper decision. Our students should go back to school, "full blast," as Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said, and go with the option of wearing masks.
After all, if our kids are learning science in school, shouldn't they be shown the practical application of science?