Please stop saying you understand our concerns, because if you truly did, you would do the right thing. You would do what the medical community and CDC have been urging the schools to do and implement universal masking.
They have made it clear that it is not safe to put our children who cannot receive the vaccine in enclosed classrooms without masking. One unmasked child can infect an entire classroom, because the viral load of the Delta variant is 1,000 times greater than the original virus. That data is published on the CDC website. This makes it considerably more infectious, more potent, and more severe for our children.
Simple cloth masks will not protect the children who choose to wear them from the ones who don’t. Children have died from this, there are many others on respirators, and many others suffering long-term health conditions from the Delta variant.
If you do not implement a mask mandate, you will knowingly put our children into an unsafe environment without adequate protection. Sanitizing surfaces will not suffice. You may as well hand our children water guns to fight off a wildfire.
And the virus is spreading like wildfire throughout the states with low vaccination rates. More than half of those eligible in S.C. have not been fully vaccinated and nearly two-thirds of our total population is not fully vaccinated if you take our children into account.
The worst part about your policy is that you won’t even provide a virtual option to give parents the ability to protect their children in a safe environment. Nor have you offered parents the option to choose between a masked classroom and an unmasked one even though I suggested it nearly two weeks ago.
At the very least, give us options until a vaccine becomes available to them.
Listen to the medical community instead of the governor. Stand up to him and tell him that forcing our children into an unsafe environment and stripping our children of the most effective form of protection will be an unmitigated disaster. By threatening to pull funding, he is holding our children hostage for the sake of political gain.
It will be much easier to apologize to him, than to the parents who will lose a child, who will be left managing children with long-term complications, and who will be paying massive medical bills when it could have been prevented. While you’re at it, apologize to our children for knowingly putting them in peril.
You know what to do. For the love of our children, do it. Implement universal masking.
Monica Wiser is a resident of Beaufort County with children enrolled in the Beaufort County School District.