Iowa has joined 8 states to legally ban mask mandates in schools, despite the safety recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Governor Reynolds states “some politicians are trying to turn public safety measures-- children wearing masks in school--into political disputes for their own political gain.” “Choice,” “Freedom” and “Personal Responsibility” are catch phrases Gov. Reynolds used during the pandemic to inflate the value of our individual rights and freedoms, while deflating the collective responsibility to public health safety inherent in the free choices we make. I’m not sure when we all became so focused on ourselves and forgot about our neighbors, friends, coworkers, families and, yes, strangers.
I agree we all have choices. In the case of COVID-19, the right one is vaccination and universal masking, including in school. Choosing to remain unvaccinated, unmasked, and not masking children in school places everyone at risk. If you make the choice not to be vaccinated, or make that choice for your child, the default responsibility is to protect others. That means masking-up.
Mass vaccination improved the pandemic. Then Delta and other variants emerged. The unvaccinated are getting sick, including children and adolescents in ever-larger numbers. Some are dying. The virus figured out how to change and target the vulnerable. Now they want the vaccinated to get a third dose. What if more people got vaccinated? Please consider vaccination and, regardless of vaccination status, mask up.
If your choice is to remain unvaccinated, don’t ride the coattails of the vaccinated. Do the responsible thing. Wear a mask and put a mask on your child if they can’t be vaccinated. It is our responsibility thanks to our “freedom of choice.” We cannot have one without the other. There is a cost to freedom.
Shelby Allen-Benitz, Clear Lake