MASKS IN SCHOOLS
PROTECT KIDS AND COMMUNITIES
Tell Governor Baker to protect kids and communities
with universal indoor masking in schools for
everyone age 2+ in the 2021-22 school year.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and hundreds of Massachusetts medical and public health experts all agree: with case counts on the rise (up ~700% in July 2021), the stickiness and seriousness of the Delta variant, and persistent percentages of unvaccinated individuals, everyone age 2 and up in every school setting should be wearing masks indoors in the 2021-22 school year as a bare minimum COVID mitigation measure. This is especially true in daycare and grades K-6, where nearly all of the students are not yet even eligible for a COVID vaccine.
Nonetheless, on July 30, 2021, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and his administration refused to follow the science. Rather than implementing universal masking in schools, the Baker administration issued weak, unenforceable, and non-binding recommendations that children in grades K-6 (but not school staff) and unvaccinated individuals (all grades K-12) wear masks in schools. Daycare settings were omitted entirely. The administration specifically recommended that vaccinated students be allowed to remain unmasked, in direct violation of CDC, AAP, and other expert scientific guidance.
Take one minute to sign the petition to Governor Baker and his administration.
Tell them: we are Bay Staters who accept and embrace science. We demand you do the same and protect our children, families, and communities with universal indoor masking this year.
Your voice matters. Your voice is necessary. Speak up for science and safety.
Read the petition. Add your name.
To review the petition with citations, click here.
Dear Governor Baker, Secretary Sudders, Acting Commissioner Cooke, Secretary Peyser, Commissioner Riley, and Commissioner Aigner-Treworgy:
Your masking decision announced on Friday, July 30, 2021, violates the data-driven school health recommendations from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and more than 200 medical and public health experts right here in our Commonwealth. We call on you to require masks indoors in schools for everyone age 2 and up, regardless of vaccination status, unless medical or developmental disability precludes it, consistent with CDC and AAP recommendations.
As your own state epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown recently published, the Delta variant is present in Massachusetts and highly transmissible. Not only is Delta as contagious as the chickenpox, leading to more cases among children especially when unmasked in school together, but also Delta may cause more severe disease and experts anticipate an increase in severe cases and deaths among children because of the variant. One recent report found that an additional 70% of children could be infected with COVID-19 within three months of the start of school without masking. More cases among children, of course, will lead to more cases in our communities and significantly increase the risk of school shutdowns, which in turn increase the risk of yet another round of havoc for children, parents, teachers, small business owners, and others.
Without question, the risk is greater among unvaccinated individuals, and as you know no child under age 12 can yet access a vaccine against COVID-19. With physical distance requirements for the upcoming academic year already rescinded, vaccination unavailable to children in child care programs and grades K-6, and insufficient vaccination rates among youth in grades 7-12 to provide meaningful community protection, masks are critical to mitigating COVID. They must be worn by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to protect against Delta transmission, ensure enforceability, provide consistency, model good health behavior, and avoid wholly unnecessary bullying.
Contrary to gross misconceptions, masks do not: make it harder for children to breathe, interfere with lung development, cause carbon dioxide poisoning, or weaken immune systems. You have plenty of resources available to you to know that you should not fall prey to such dangerous disinformation peddled by the anti-vax/anti-mask movement. Masks are not a muzzle; they are a simple and highly effective tool in our COVID prevention toolbox.
Masks work. We know this. Masks are a primary reason why schools had relatively low transmission last year. A mask-optional or honor system approach is proven to fail; just ask CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky. So too will your July 30 announcement fail to protect children and families throughout the Commonwealth, particularly people who are immunocompromised or otherwise at greater risk for serious COVID illness.
If the health and safety of children isn’t enough to persuade you, perhaps you might think of the school committee members and teachers and school staff and administrators who have been berated by vaccine- and mask-opponents for months on end. These local leaders deserve effective support from you, not another punt of the COVID football.
Stop playing politics with public health. Stop gambling with the health, safety, and lives of children, families, teachers, staff, and everyone involved with school communities. Do the right thing – the thing that the overwhelming number of leading scientists tell you to do – require masks in schools for everyone age 2 and up unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit use. Do not let the anti-vax/anti-mask propaganda machine win in Massachusetts. Do not threaten children’s constitutionally guaranteed right to attend school safely by failing to protect their health with something so simple as a mask.
We are Bay Staters who accept and embrace science. We demand you do the same and protect our children, families, and communities with universal indoor masking in schools this year.