Help me find a letter about wearing masks in schools
August 16, 2021 3:17 PM   Subscribe

My school board is meeting to decide whether to allow schools to go against the state mask mandate. I would like to submit thoughts against letting parents decide not to mask their children. I also do not really have time to write this from scratch. I imagine someone here has read such a letter or written one and would hopefully be willing to share.

As it says, the local school board is asking the state board to let parents decide whether kids should wear masks. I am in an area with a high rate of spread and find this terrifying and infuriating. I want to be sure the state board knows we don't all share this stupid opinion. But I am finding out last minute and do not have time to write my thoughts out well. Please share where someone else did this already. Thanks.
posted by crunchy potato to Society & Culture (10 answers total)
Unfortunately I do not have a letter for you, but I don’t think this needs to be as comprehensive a letter as you are looking for.

A succinct “I oppose this for reasons X and Y” letter will convey your opinion, will likely take less time to write than this question did, and is more likely to be read in full than a long essay would be.

Good luck!
posted by ripley_ at 3:29 PM on August 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

I mean, the American Academy of Pediatrics posted this paper with guidelines for returning to school, but it’s not very succinct.
posted by Night_owl at 4:11 PM on August 16, 2021

Here's a thread from Dr. Megan Ranney with some salient points.
posted by Dashy at 4:16 PM on August 16, 2021

... And is more likely to be read in full than a long essay would be.

As someone who reads letters for a living, I say, "Hell yes" to this advice.

Make your point right away: "I oppose any effort to make school masking voluntary because X and Y." In school, we're taught to write toward a conclusion, and judges save their big point until the end. But when you're writing for a busy state board that is getting a lot of email on a topic, let them know where you stand right away.

For brief, easily understood talking points on masking, I refer you to this Aug. 12 report from Jacqueline Howard of CNN: School openings so far prove science is right -- masking works. In the first 5 paragraphs, you'll find all the information you need. (Don't worry -- these paragraphs are one or two sentences long.)
posted by virago at 4:28 PM on August 16, 2021 [7 favorites]

Check your MeMail.

We were successful in getting our local board to take action . . . which was just undone a few hours ago by our governor. It brings me a small comfort to think I can help save kids' lives somewhere else, even as I can't protect my own daughter here.
posted by timestep at 5:05 PM on August 16, 2021 [4 favorites]

This website, though it focuses on breastfeeding advocacy, has a citizen advocacy letter template that would work for any cause (scroll to the bottom, under the heading "SAMPLE LETTER") and worthwhile tips for writing same.

PS OP, if you're pressed for bandwidth and you decide to use the letter provided by timestep, no worries! I'll leave this link here for anyone else who may need it.
posted by virago at 5:23 PM on August 16, 2021

When our district was leaning toward making masking optional, I concluded my similar such letter with this:
While there is evidence that masks provide some protection to the wearer, research is definitive that masks prevent the transmission of COVID-19 from infected individuals. Optional masking as a protective measure for the wearer is insufficient. The CDC says that protective and preventive masking are complementary and that “individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use.”
I doubt this was the least bit persuasive, however.

Our superintendent did end up making the call to require masking for K-8. As it turns out, our state health guidance for schools says that if students are masked, exposure to COVID in the classroom does not require quarantine. The district has done away with all other social distancing measures, so a positive case could easily send an entire class home. Ultimately, the district made the decision to require masking to keep kids in school.

Good luck!
posted by kittydelsol at 5:53 PM on August 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yes, keep things short - 300 words or less.

Facts are great, but your board members have the facts already and those aren't swaying them now. So make sure to include personal story & experience. If your kiddo(s) are anxious, share that. If you have imuno-compromised relatives who you would have to forgo seeing if a mask mandate wasn't upheld, share that. If you have been personally impacted by COVID, share that.

Be solutions oriented and positive in your letter. Focus on the good that can come from masking. Elected officials mostly get yelled at so positivity goes a long way.
posted by brookeb at 8:30 PM on August 16, 2021

You may or may not want to mention that a school board opens itself up for lawsuits by parents whose children get sick, on the ground that it failed to ensure a "standard of care" (this article talks about how even if such suits don't end up successful, they can be extremely expensive for the district.) So you might use a sentence like "As a taxpayer, I am also not willing to be exposed to the possibility of expensive lawsuits against the district from parents whose children contract covid because they were made to learn in a potentially unsafe environment.")
posted by trig at 1:06 AM on August 17, 2021

Okay, here's one sample. Going for a slightly sensationalist tone, since that's the tone most anti-mask efforts take. It doesn't say anything about the role of schools in spreading the virus to adult to avoid getting too long, and it would need to be changed slightly if yours are older kid(s).

I oppose any effort to make school masking voluntary in our district.

- Delta is more dangerous to kids than the original coronavirus. More kids are being infected. More kids are winding up in hospitals. Kids at the start of their lives are "recovering" from the virus with scarred lungs and heart and kidney damage. We are just beginning to understand the long term effects. School should not be a place of danger for our kids.

- If my child is masked and another student isn't, my child gets half the protection that they would if both kids wore masks. Masks don't filter 100% of dangerous particles. If my child's mask slips, they have no protection. Delta can spread within seconds, unlike the original virus.

- I do not want peer pressure to be a factor for my kid. I do not want my kid to have to choose who to play with based on whether they wear a mask or not. I do not want my kid afraid to sit next to another child. I do not want to have to explain to my kid why other kids are being irresponsible, and why my kid still has to wear a mask when other kids aren't. School is also about community. Partial masking divides our community. It pits students and families against each other.

- As a taxpayer, I am also not willing to be exposed to the possibility of expensive lawsuits against our district from parents whose children contract covid because they were made to learn in a potentially unsafe environment.

We have a duty of care for our kids. Let's obey the state mask mandate.
posted by trig at 1:50 AM on August 17, 2021 [7 favorites]

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