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  • Writer's pictureAsclepius

Stop Harming Children with Mask Mandates

Director of Public Health Janel Heinrich appears to believe her mask mandates are benign actions that have no chance of harm. Perhaps that could be true for a two-week program to “flatten the curve,” but after multiple years it is long past time for a critical reevaluation. Long-term harm is happening now. Sweeping it under the rug and pretending it doesn’t exist does not make it less real or the consequences less damaging.

Nowhere is this harm more egregious than with our children.

It is a cruel twist of irony that public health officials who profess support for children try to claim moral high ground while enacting policies that harm them. This hypocrisy has to stop.

Is our county really so callous that they cannot plainly see that covering children’s faces for years can have emotional and developmental impacts? Are they honestly this devoid of empathy and connection? Have they simply jettisoned any concern for human dignity?

Can PHMDC provide any data to prove how “protected” masks keep children here in Dane County? Or how much healthier our masked children are than those in surrounding counties, all of whom are allowed to go to school without masks?

Could that data be strong enough to justify continuing this policy in the face of the harm it creates?

“Masking kids is not a damage free intervention. It negatively affects learning and causes significant social and emotional harm. Masking impairs verbal and non-verbal communication between teachers and students, limits facial identification and has occasional physical side effects. Visualization of the entire face is of crucial importance to social, emotional, and speech development.” -Dr. Jennifer Knips ,MD

The policy of requiring masks for children, including those as young as 2, is a moral failure. It operates on the premise that risk should and can be transferred from adults onto children. When is asking children to bear risk for adults ever an acceptable moral principle? Everywhere and at all times adults have a responsibility to do everything they can to protect children--to take more risk upon themselves in ordered to benefit and safeguard the next generation.

And our next generation is hurting.

Evidence is piling up that the mental health situation of our youth is deteriorating. From studies on infants and toddlers to the broader impacts of mental health on adolescents, we are already in the midst of a youth mental health crisis.

“Even before the pandemic, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide…The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating. The future wellbeing of our country depends on how we support and invest in the next generation.” -Surgeon General Vivek Murthy

We need to normalize our children’s lives as quickly as possible and support them in every way. The mental health situation was bad before COVID. One can certainly see that masks would not help anyone feel less isolated. How is it not an awful and heartless policy to use coercive mandates to panic and burden this at-risk group for multiple years for a disease of minimal risk to them?

Many in Dane County are waking up and realizing that there is no partisan position on masking kids. There is only the non-political need to protect our children from the damage that politicized masks are doing to them. Isn't it time to undivide ourselves--to come together and resist these mandates that continue to diminish our children’s well-being?

Listen to the courageous words of local educator and child advocate April Kidman.

Children are some of the most powerless members of our society. They are new here and just finding their way in the world. Do we really expect them to advocate for themselves? They rely on us to look out for go to the mat for them. Are we waiting for special experts from the CDC to come to our community and tell us: “Now it is ok to start taking care of kids mental health again”?

What's required is for conscientious individuals in our community, like April, who understand children and their development, to come together and firmly but relentlessly insist that these mandates on our children be dropped--at county, municipal, school district, and commercial levels.

Share this article with parents as well as our community's pediatricians and family doctors, child psychologists and school teachers. Ask them to reflect deeply on what they know to be true about life and childhood.

Ask them if they believe school mask mandates are right for our kids.

Don't let any of them off the hook.

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