I am issuing an S.O.S., the universal call for help, asking our most trusted public health institutions to coordinate their school reopening recommendations. I tweeted out this message as an urgent appeal for a consensus on universal masking, physical distancing and continued implementation of effective mitigation strategies. Please DO NOT LEAVE the decisions up to individual school districts. Lives are at stake, 48 million children are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine and very soon more than 56 million students will be returning to school.
S.O.S from a school nurse:— Robin Cogan (@RobinCogan) July 21, 2021
Coordinated public health guidance is NEEDED ASAP regarding school reopening. The Delta variant is highly transmissible, physical distancing in schools is being waived if it precludes students fully returning to buildings. Masking is a political pawn. pic.twitter.com/yieQg9CduG
The mask guidance we have seen from the CDC, state departments of education and health are only fueling confusion and misinformation spreading as rapidly as the Delta variant. Mandates promoting universal masking regardless of vaccination status and specific physical distancing guidance are urgently needed. The focus is on returning all students to face to face learning. But, should we do that at the risk of unvaccinated children and immunocomprised staff and students? We know the total disruption of life that COVID has caused, but turning a blind eye on what is clearly a surge in this highly transmissible Delta variant, is reckless and irresponsible.
Many states have announced that remote learning options will not be availabe in the 2021-2022 school year. Why take that off the table in the midst of this surge? 48 million children are not yet eligible for the COVID vaccine. According to the FDA, the vaccine may not be available until the late fall or winter. Between the Delta variant now accounting for 83% of all infections, a less than robust response to accepting the COVID vaccine by students 12 and up, how do we safely return students to school without implementing every layer of precaution? Ventilation is still inadequate in more than 50% of schools across the country.
Poor air quality in K-12 schools is a longstanding concern, predating COVID-19. According to a nationwide survey of school districts performed by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in June 2020, 54% of public school districts needed to update or replace multiple building systems or features in their schools. – retrieved from School Ventilation: A Vital Tool to Reduce COVID-19 Spread
Schools can safely reopen, but not without implementing the layers of protective strategies regardless of community pushback. Public health and safety guardrails for students and school staff should not be pawns in appeasing misinformed community members. While some reject scientific evidence, the 2020-2021 school year proves that they work. Why take them away now, as we enter the 2021-2022 school year? It is nonsensical that Governors in states like Arizona are writing executive orders banning masks in schools? Dangerous and politically driven legislation across the country is prolonging the pandemic and putting children and school staff in unsafe learning environments.
Do we care about children? It appears the answer is a resounding NO! Please prove me wrong.
Please add your name to this important petition that is being sent to the CDC to request universal masking regardless of vaccination status: