On Thursday August 5 the Bibb County Board of Education adopted a required mask policy for students, teachers, and all personnel, for the 2021-22 school year in a special called meeting. We printed the policy in an earlier article and it is available here.
The BOE decision has generated a lot of interest among school parents that were not in attendance at the meeting and plan to attend the next scheduled board meeting on August 10, 2021.
On August 6 the Chilton County school system published guidelines saying that masks are recommended in the school buildings and required on buses.
The Shelby County School System had no mask requirement included in their opening plan reported by The Shelby County Reporter on July 29.
Update: On Saturday Al.com reported “As of Friday, 58 of Alabama’s 150 public school districts and charter schools, including some of the largest in the state, said they required masks.”
Tuscaloosa County Schools reported a masks optional policy on July 30, stating “At this time, TCSS continues to move forward as we did last year, operating under the guidance of any current Alabama COVID-19 public health (mask) order”.
The Bibb BOE announcement credited strong recommendations from local doctors, as well as the Alabama Department of Public Health and the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Parental input was not listed as a consideration.
The Alabama Department of Public Health Back to School Guidance credits the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as the source for its best understanding of how Covid infects and spreads among students and educators.
The Bibb Voice takes note that the ADPH Statewide Orders that have been issued, including the latest order of May 3, 2021, encourages the use of masks but does not require them. You can find that information at the link above in Paragraph 4(a) and Pg. 6. This recommendation is different than the recommendation ADPH made in its Back to School Guidance referenced above.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations are more stringent than those adopted by the Bibb BOE. Specifically the Academy says until a child is fully vaccinated against Covid they should continue to wear a face mask and keep a safe physical distance indoors and outdoors around people they don’t live with or who may have the virus. Anyone unvaccinated should also wear face masks outdoors in large group settings or when physical distancing isn’t possible.
Meanwhile, in the State of Florida, the Florida Department of Education on Friday August 6 reinforced Governor Ron Desantis’ Bill of Parental Rights.
The same day, the Florida Department of Health passed a rule (pdf) requiring a number of COVID-19 safeguards for Florida schools, including frequent cleaning of classrooms and hand-washing for students. Alongside protocols for students who have caught the virus and those who have been exposed to it, the rule requires schools to allow parents to opt children out of having to wear a mask.
“Giving parents options to make these decisions is not controversial. I’m proud that today we took action to make sure school administrators respect parents’ rights to make educational and healthcare decisions for their families,” DeSantis said in a statement.
The Florida Parents’ Bill of Rights (pdf) guarantees parents and legal guardians a number of rights with respect to their children’s education and upbringing. It prohibits the state or any other entity from interfering with parental choices or decisions. Among a number of other provisions, the law gives parents the right to inspect educational materials and to exempt their children from immunizations.
If you have questions about the mask recommendations issued by the Centers for Disease Control you are not alone. In the last week Dr. Anthony Fauci has been publicly interrogated by Senator Rand Paul regarding his involvement and possible approval of NIH funding for the Wuhan Research Institute that may have developed the virus that started the worldwide pandemic. Dr. Fauci has been notoriously inconsistent with his masking recommendations. Finally, questions about the inconsistency of recommendations coming from the CDC has risen to the level that may trigger congressional oversight hearings, see below.
UPdate 8/8/21: See article from Al.com
Reprinted From The Epoch Times
A group of 10 Republican senators is backing legislation that would require an audit of the decision-making and public health messaging by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The Senate proposal (pdf), the Restore Public Health Institution Trust Act of 2021, would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to assess the CDC’s public health messaging and decision-making and prepare a report on its findings.
The report would include a review of the data that the CDC used to make its recommendations and whether the agency’s “inconsistent messaging” had an impact on the public’s trust and willingness to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“These guidelines, like most of the Biden Administration’s actions these days, make little sense and seem without scientific direction,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement, referring to the CDC’s recent reversal of masking guidance for fully vaccinated people.
“Americans have spent the last year and a half making tremendous sacrifices to halt the virus’s spread, but they are confused and have lost trust in our institutions. The mixed messaging could also degrade trust in the efficacy of vaccines.”
The CDC revised its mask guidance last week, telling fully vaccinated people to don masks in crowded indoor settings. The agency based the decision on a study of an outbreak in Massachusetts which found that 74 percent of the people infected had been fully vaccinated. The study also suggested that fully vaccinated people who become infected with the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus could still spread the virus.
The CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, is the pathogen that causes COVID-19.
“The CDC’s flip-flop on mask guidance sends a confusing message to Montanans and the American people, and has not been clearly justified with data. The CDC needs to improve its communications with the public and stop undermining vaccine confidence,” Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.) said in a statement.
“Over the past year and a half, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued conflicting health guidance, at times only weeks apart, and at times without supporting clinical data,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) said in a statement. “Their actions have unnecessarily divided our country and fueled partisan conflict. The job of the CDC is to help control and prevent disease, not play politics. It’s time for oversight and reform.”
In summary, no one seems to have a corner on the mask knowledge market these days and there is no universal agreement on the effectiveness [efficacy] of mask wearing, especially when it comes to children. Do the benefits of mask wearing outweigh the harm caused to children. No one can claim to have that answer.
Americans are patient but not without limits. After 20 months of a pandemic should decisions about minor children still be made without supporting scientific data and parental consent ? I would suggest that you take a look at the booklets published by the CDC and the ADPH for back to school guidance and see for yourself if they are backed up with reliable scientific references and data.
Our neighboring State of Florida Governor has been an aggressive advocate for the rights of parents during the last tumultuous year, especially in the healthcare and school attendance arena. Florida has answered on these issues with new laws that require parental involvement on healthcare and education decisions. Maybe it is time for Alabama to do the same.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: https://youtu.be/_9KnhUu7Ba4
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer only and not necessarily the views of the Bibb Voice or its Editorial Board. Your thoughtful comments and respectful opinions are also welcomed. You can leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Thank you Mike for this very useful article. Parents rights are being stripped away. The school board doesn’t have the right to make decisions for the entire county especially when their information isn’t consistent at best.
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