People are “tired” of the pandemic, I will give you that, it has been an exhausting and stressful two years of disruption. But these endless discussions and speculations about off-ramps need to include the real issue, people do not want to follow rules. The “don’t tell me what to do” movement has been fueled by incessant disinformation campaigns. We have reached a precarious public health precipice as the wave of forced COVID off-ramps are including unmasking, ending contacting tracing, quarantining, and testing.
Schools continue to be Petrie dishes for these ill-advised “off ramps” with no consideration to the health and well being of those who may not yet be vaccinated, or who are immunocompromised. The elephant in the classrooms continues to be lack of acknowledgment that COVID is airborne and what that means for ventilation requirements in antiquated school buildings. Just a few weeks ago, the discussion of proper masking resurfaced. The Mayo Clinic shared a helpful article that answers the question, “How well do face masks protect against COVID-19?
Can face masks help slow the spread of the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? Yes. Face masks combined with other preventive measures, such as getting vaccinated, frequent hand-washing and physical distancing, can help slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. – retrieved from – How well do face masks protect against COVID-19?
Back to not wanting to follow any rules, what does this say about the breakdown in our society? It is clear that it is impacting civility and public discourse. School board meeting after school board meetings are met by protesting parents and community members demanding that “masking is child abuse” and other misguided, misinformed and frankly dangerous accusations.
School nurses have been the unwelcome recipients of unbelievable disrespect, verbal and physical assaults. Police have been called to school health offices prompted by out of control parents ranting and raving about public health safety recommendations with such vehemence that assault charges are warranted. Whether the threat is verbal or physical, it is still an assault and cannot be tolerated.
When I sit (virtually) side by side with school nurses every Sunday night to regroup for the next week, we often talk about how to handle scenarios that we never imagined would come from simply asking people to follow rules. That is the crux of the issue, are we no longer a society that follows rules. When did this happen and why? Perhaps this heavy question is one that social scientists will be studying for decades to come. But for the here and now, this is what we must confront. How do we keep students and staff safe as “off-ramps” are forced down the throats of those who are tasked with the health and safety of other people’s children?
The collective will of the public should not override public health. Being “tired” of COVID and masking does not make it magically disappear. Let’s show our children that we, as a society, can “follow rules,” or as we see, bullying, intimidation, and chaos reign.