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Letter to the editor: School board, newspaper sending the wrong message

To the editor:

I’m writing regarding the Davie County Board of Education’s decision for the Davie County school policy on masking of children. The county schools are scheduled to open Aug. 23. Please advise what are the recommendations from the health department at this point for masking children in school as the Delta variant spike is causing increased sickness and hospitalizations in children and their parents and others exposed.

Are the school board members following parents’ public opinion rather than scientific health recommendations?  The school board claims to be consulting a Duke study and health recommendations; however, they don’t seem to be following its findings that masking and vaccination for 12 year olds and older are effective in preventing transmission of the COCID 19- now the Delta variant.  Should this be a choice or a mandate?

The dashboard statistics for North Carolina indicates a surge which appears worse than the last surge in terms of NC hospitalizations.

The website states children 2 years and older should wear a cloth face covering over their nose and mouth when in public settings where it’s difficult to practice social distancing. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) the other everyday preventive actions listed above.

I am concerned that the school board and the Davie Enterprise Record editorial  on Aug. 10 are sending out a very unsafe message which is interpreted by others to advise people its OK or optional to mask or not mask. What is the message interpreted for vaccination? Vaccinate or not?  This message goes out not only to persons connected to schools, but the school board’s unintentional message is being transmitted to all residents of Davie County via the Davie Enterprise Record and other social media.

School children are not living in a bubble. The virus can be transmitted from children, to parents, to families, to all members of the community. With a county vaccination rate below 50% and transmissions occurring even within the vaccinated there are many persons susceptible to severe or possibly long term illness.  Our health system, including health care costs are being overloaded.  The true price of covid health care costs, and our failure to pull together to contain it will cost us well into the future including school budgets, health budgets all budgets.

Are county statistics accurate in capturing data for cases, hospitalizations and deaths (confirmed by test or suspected for Davie County residents)?  I suspect strongly that there is no data available which captures long term health complications and costs due to COVID.

Would you (Health Director Suzanne Wright) recommend that the school board chair call a special session to reevaluate their decision on masking for school opening Aug. 23 sooner rather than later? Wouldn’t it be prudent to have a school mask mandate at least until the spike reverses itself? Considering vaccine hesitancy and vaccine refusal and hospitalization rates in the state, shouldn’t the school board and newspaper be concerned about the message they are sending out to all Davie residents – children, parents and residents?

The Department of Health’s input on this would be most helpful at this time.

Deborah Strube

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