Letter to the editor: Fear the Lord, not Cooper and Cohen

Published 11:23 am Friday, September 10, 2021

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To the editor:

My name is Cassie Gibietis. I live in the Calahaln area of Mocksville, and I graduated from Davie County High School in 1993. I am deeply concerned with the school board’s recent decision to mandate masks in schools. I am writing in hopes of gaining the attention of school board members, the superintendent of schools, as well as fellow parents and concerned citizens.

I am a homemaker who also homeschools my son. Prior to this, I taught in the public schools of Texas and North Carolina. I was licensed in special education, elementary education, and English as a Second Language. I taught for 12 years. Seven of those years were with special education students, four were in a regular education first grade classroom, and one was as an elementary literacy specialist.

When I think of what this mask and social distancing mandate is doing to a generation of students trying to learn to read, as well as to develop healthy peer and adult relationships, I am extremely disheartened and even alarmed.

I noticed at this month’s school board meeting that a few board members removed their masks when speaking, I assume so they could be heard properly. That makes complete sense to me. Yet I assume teachers are not allowed to do the same in their classrooms so their students have that same advantage. Many students are coming from households where English is not their first language, and they are now learning English from a teacher who is masked, and peers who are, as well. They are unable to clearly see and articulate letter sounds, how the mouth moves to form letter sounds, letter blends, and the like. Many students are coming from poverty and are not being read to or even spoken to in adequate amounts at home, or are in front of a screen for many hours of the day, rather than interacting with others. School could be their only hope of learning how to properly interact with others, read facial expressions, learn to read and learn correct speech. And yet, we are greatly hindering that process by covering people’s faces and requiring social distancing.

Body language researcher Albert Mehrabian, who first broke down the components of face-to-face conversation, stated that communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal, and 7% words only. We have to ask ourselves, even if we believe masks work, and there is a mountain of evidence to indicate that they do not, does the gain from wearing them outweigh the loss for a virus with a survival rate of over 98%? It comes down to this: do you believe the mask is the end all be all savior, which I’ll tell you right now it’s not, because Jesus is the only one who can claim that title, and he tells us not to fear, or do you not?

I’m thinking most of you don’t truly believe the masks are the answer, and I urge you to stand up for these kids in your care right now. Protect them. We know you care about them or you wouldn’t be serving on the school board, teaching them in your classrooms, lovingly parenting them, etc. That’s why I’m writing. I don’t even have children in the Davie County Schools, but I am determined to stand up for them, because I see they are being mistreated. So do right by them, and I believe you’ll hear the Lord whisper in your ear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You stood up for the least of these even when the evil swirling around you was saying, ‘Just go with the flow. Don’t make waves.’”

Here’s what it comes down to. You can either fear the Lord, or fear everything else. You have to choose. So far, it looks like our school district and school board are fearing Governor Cooper and Mandy Cohen, or maybe they’re fearing a virus with an over 98% recovery rate, or maybe they’re fearing losing funding if they buck the system.

But it’s not too late to do the right thing. Ask yourself, am I fearing the Almighty God, who created each and every one of these precious children in His image, and who says it would be better for you to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble (Luke 17:2), or am I fearing and worshipping something else? It’s not too late to do the right thing for the children of Davie County. I hope and pray you’ll think about it, and stand up for what is right for these children.

Cassie Gibietis