Mr. David Staheli, a member of the Iron County School Board, reviews the health code to show that parents can exempt their children for a mental health condition, or intellectual or developmental disability. Fox News Article
In accordance with Section 62A-4a-201 of our state code, it is the public policy of this state that a parent “retain the fundamental right and duty to exercise primary control over the care, supervision, upbringing, and education” of their children. Utah State Code also states that, “the legislature, state board, local school boards and charter school governing boards shall respect, protect and further the interests of parents in their children’s public education.” UCA‐53E‐2‐2‐201 Article 2.
Full video of UPU with Utah Governor's Office
"The Governor gave an estimate based on projected vaccine doses coming to the state of end of April/ beginning of May.. then the time (a couple of weeks) necessary to allow all of those individuals the opportunity to get a second dose." - Brittney Cummins
An Open Letter to Utah Governor Spencer Cox from Jennifer Berry, founder of Franklin Discovery Academy
An Open Letter to Utah Governor Spencer Cox:
I’m Jennifer Berry and founder of Franklin Discovery Academy.
The mask mandate allows schools to choose to let parents make medical decisions about masks for their children and we chose to let them. Let me make clear that we followed the mandate. The right of schools to make this choice is there. Let me also make clear that I’m sharing my own opinions and analysis of how that choice worked out, and not offering an official school position.
Governor Cox: I’ve got 2 graduate degrees and will graduate later this year with a PhD in the science of how people learn. I’m married to a doctor who takes care of Covid patients in the hospital. We’ve both had Covid, along with our kids, and we’re both fully vaccinated. I’m not a Covid-denier or conspiracy theorist who thinks Covid is an attempt to microchip everyone. I recognize the very real pain and suffering experienced by so many because of Covid, including me and my family. So, please, don’t lump me in with those you’ve labeled as enemies and crazy science deniers. Please consider what I have to say as someone with valuable experience, a voter, and a constituent. My comments are specific to children in masks, and not grown-ups, which is an entirely different issue.
Although at 600 students our school is too small to make any large scientifically generalized statements, I’ve learned several important things.
First, despite accepting many mask exemption forms, our Covid numbers match that of surrounding schools and the community. If Covid is up in the community, it’s up in our population. If it’s down in the community, it’s down for us.
But, most importantly, our school community hasn't been getting it at school. The cases of Covid among our school members can almost always be traced to spread within families, like it was in my family’s case. We’ve not had a single case of student-to-student, student-to-teacher, or teacher-to-student school spread. We did have some teachers give it to each other during a meeting, incidentally while they were all masked, but other than that NO confirmed or suspected school spread.
Also quite interesting, the rate of Covid in our school-at-home families is the same as the rate of Covid in our at-school families. We’ve operated in-person with full-time hours, Monday-Friday, 7:30am-5:30pm, without any school closures, since August 3rd. At our school, those who wear masks and those who are on exemptions peacefully coexist without any shaming or bullying. The freedom of parents to make a choice on masks for their children has brought what one parent described as a “miraculously normal school year and a haven of safety during an otherwise chaotic time.”
As a mom, it was offensive to me that over the summer you masked my children before masking me as an adult, and now that you would continue masking children when it’s not required for adults is mind-boggling.
Your recent four-point statement trying to justify this insistence on child masking is flawed on many levels. First, it is widely accepted among professional educators, behavior therapists, and child psychologists that you NEVER make a child responsible for the safety of another child or adult. I’ve sat in meetings where your own USBE staff have emphasized this principle.
The excuse you most commonly cite for why kids must stay in masks, and one listed in your four-point document, is that other high-risk children wouldn’t be able to attend school or it would put teachers who haven’t gotten vaccinated yet at risk. Putting the responsibility of another individual’s health and safety on them goes contrary to commonly accepted norms in child development. The burden and responsibility of Covid is not theirs. Covid is not a kid problem. It is our problem as adults.
I recently heard about a 7 year old, not from our school, who came home crying because the teacher had told them that mask wearing was needed to keep her high-risk mother safe, and this poor 7-year old felt responsible for the health of her teacher’s mother and that she could possibly hurt or kill her. Putting the burden of Covid on children is neither ethical or reasonable, and, in my view, amounts to bullying at the very least, and child abuse at worst.
What happens when that teacher’s mother gets Covid and dies anyway, or the grandparents in the nursing home die anyway? What do you think it is going to do to that child to feel responsible for those deaths, or even just serious illnesses, even though their masking habits had zero impact on the situation? Putting the burden, blame, and responsibility for Covid spread on children must stop.
It has been widely acknowledged, even among die-hard maskers, that masking does not cure Covid spread. It, at best, can only help. Accordingly, a truly high-risk child should not be at school either way. Putting their health in the hands of a 5-year-old and whether they are wearing a mask correctly is not safe for the high risk student and an unfair burden to the well student. This inexcusable excuse for continued child masking is causing undue anxiety and trauma on Utah’s young students by inappropriately making the health and safety of others their responsibility.
A second, and immense, problem with the K-12 mask mandate is that it targets the wrong population. All of this effort and expense to get kids to mask-up has been spent on WELL children. The focus needs to be on SICK children and SICK adults.
In years past, when someone had an infectious disease, they got a quarantine notice put up on their house and were subject to real and significant penalties for breaking quarantine. With Utah, although a business could get fined ten grand for a WELL employee not in a mask, there is NO penalty for someone with active, contagious Covid from going to the grocery store or sending a sick child to school.
The right of the state to temporarily remove freedoms if you have an infectious disease is well established in case law. However, the right of the state to remove freedoms from a WELL person is not. Just because you’ve done it this year, doesn’t mean it passes constitutional muster.
If the state had spent all of the effort it spent on masking WELL people on restricting SICK people from spreading Covid, this pandemic would be over.
Because we had two parents send children to school when there was Covid in the household, we learned early on that the focus has to be on sick children and keeping them OUT of school and not on WELL children. We had to institute our own policies and penalties for sending children to school who should’ve been in quarantine since the state did not. In one case, when the parent was asked by the state’s contact tracer where the children went to school, the answer was, “I decline to state.” This should not have been an option. A big hammer should have come down until they identified the school so we could have taken appropriate action. Instead, we only found out because a kid can’t keep a secret.
Governance is about allocating resources. We can’t do it all. In this case, the state (mistakenly in my view) made a choice to spend its limited resources on controlling WELL people rather than on SICK or high-risk people.
At the same time as former Gov. Herbert proudly greeted a plane full of expensive PPE for teachers and students, a nurse friend told me about how she was allocated one cloth mask per week at her nursing home facility. The state sent us healthcare facility grade KN95 masks at the same time as nursing home facilities were begging for additional resources and their residents were actually dying. They were left with inadequate protection that cost many lives. Those people were basically locked up for a year and still weren’t protected and died in numbers that are criminal. Clearly, the inexcusable death toll in our nursing homes is evidence that masking 5-year-olds did nothing to protect them.
Another problem is that the 4-point justification has no end in sight. Those same scenarios will be with us in the fall. There will always be those who choose not to get vaccinated. There will always be high-risk children. Are we going to accept masking forever to attempt to prevent the spread of all germs?
But, the politicians love to say, “We’re just following the science. The science says masks help so we have to do it.” The problem here is in combining two statements. One factual (sort of), one a judgment, and then passing them both off as factual. The second part, that we should wear them, is not fact. It’s a judgment.
The problem is confusing science data with ethical judgment. Science presents us with facts, and it is up to others to evaluate those facts in light of context. The context of masks on young children has been missing. Masks are not developmentally appropriate for a child. You should see some of the soaking, dirty, disgusting, germ-stuffed masks we find. Don’t even get me started about the increase in nose picking. All we’ve done is given them a way to hide eating their boogers. Masks are not safe for them. We had a significant playground neck injury caused by a mask. A child is simply not capable of wearing a mask in a way that has enough impact on disease spread to counterbalance the rest of the risk/reward equation. When will you recognize that the cure is worse than the disease?
Just as with adults, some kids are bugged less by masks than others, but for all kids, wearing masks in the way described in your cited studies and on your own Covid website that is needed for masks to (potentially) be helpful, is beyond the capabilities of these young children. The mask studies used as justification are almost always adult mask studies or studies from health care facilities. Absolutely our health care facilities should be decked out in PPE. Comparatively, the world of a 5-year-old in kindergarten is like a different universe. There is no replicating those controlled settings with twenty little kids barely beyond potty-training.
An infectious disease specialist is only trained to say what a mitigation measure might or might not do relative to the disease. They are not trained to decide if the risk/reward of masks is morally worth it. They are not trained to evaluate the judgement part of the mask question, that because masks may help slow the spread, then, and here’s the judgement, that children must wear them all day long. They are not trained to consider whether doing so reduces their ability to learn, harms the physical development of their ears or speech abilities, puts them at risk for strangulation on the playground, or causes long-term anxiety and trauma. Your infectious disease doctors aren’t specialists in how children learn, nor do they have any understanding of what masking does to that process. They are not trained on balancing these risks versus the reward.
But if a mask could potentially prevent a case of Covid, then we should do it, right? Wrong! Because the risks of Covid for children are so low, when we consider the question entirely from their point of view and do what is best for them, this particular mitigation measure causes more harm than good.
Society makes these kinds of judgments all the time, since, as we know, resources are limited. It would be possible to take the risk of dying in a car accident to almost zero if we all drove tanks, but as a society we’ve chosen to accept the risk of driving our suburbans and sedans. In other words, not every mitigation measure is worth the consequences. If it was, we would’ve accepted a complete, military-style lock down that restricted all of our movements to zero.
The risk/reward equation was supposed to be something we could entrust to our elected leaders. But instead, the claws of fear mongering got the better of you.
At first the fear of Covid was real for all of us. Because my husband treats Covid patients in the hospital, for the first two weeks we lived in separate houses unsure of how safe it was for us to be together. It quickly became apparent this wasn’t necessary, and after a year there is enough data to know without a doubt that children are not at high risk from Covid. My Covid doctor husband does not let his children go to school in masks.
It is time to remove the burden of fear on our children.
I do at least have to give our state credit for allowing us to be open, unlike the power diabolically used in other states to keep schools closed. However, if we follow the money, the teachers union has all the power over Governor Cox on this issue. Are you, Governor Cox, going to continue letting them decide what is best for my children and your children? Are we going to continue letting the fear and burden of Covid wreak havoc on normalcy for our children?
We hear a lot of, “but there’s only six weeks of school left so why bother. They’ve done it all year long, they can finish it out.” It’s never too late to stop and do the right thing. It’s never too late to choose freedom over fear.
I am also deeply concerned about the equivocation coming from the top and the excuses that are currently being used to continue making children because those excuses all lead to masking next school year.
Nobody is saying we should be irresponsible and do nothing to mitigate the spread. Nobody is saying the life of those at high risk is unimportant. We are saying it is more than past time for the burden of Covid to be removed from our children. We do not need to prolong the agony on our students any longer. School leaders, it costs you nothing to give parents the medical freedom rightfully theirs.
Governor Cox, it is time to take a stand and let our children breathe. I dare you.