Our View: Mask up as we return to school | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Mask up as we return to school

The Steamboat Springs School Board made the right decision when it voted Thursday to require masks in schools for the start of the 2020-21 school year. After initially suggesting that masks be optional and directing the administration to make the decision on whether masks would be mandated, the board shifted course and decided to take responsibility for setting district policy, which is the kind of leadership we expect from our elected leaders.

With resolve, after receiving hundreds of emails from parents who fell on both sides of the issue, the board voted in favor of a mask mandate, which was absolutely the right move to protect the greatest number of people at a time when the new, more contagious delta variant is causing COVID-19 cases to spike locally.

It was also good to see other Steamboat area schools — North Routt Community Charter School, Steamboat Montessori School and Steamboat Mountain School — taking the same step to require masks. This unified approach helps make the mask decision more palatable for students, parents, teachers and staff.

In schools, where science is taught, it just makes sense to support the wearing of masks. They help to slow the spread of the virus because they create a physical barrier that catches the respiratory drops that are released from a person’s mouth when they speak, cough or sneeze. People wear masks for the protection of others more than themselves.

We understand some people believe mask mandates violate personal freedom, but we contend that personal responsibility trumps that argument. And the school board is not trying to control people’s lives but rather is taking the measures necessary to ensure students return to in-person learning in the safest environment possible, which we believe requires mandatory masks.

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Children take their cues from their parents. If an adult is complaining about wearing masks, it’s likely their kids will model that behavior and also fight against it. So instead, why not lead by example and talk to your kids about why wearing masks is important and how it protects others?

At a glance

At issue: Schools in the Steamboat Springs area have opted to start the 2021-22 school year with mask mandates in place.

Our View: This is the best decision for the greatest number of people involved and will allow students to return to in-person learning in the safest environment possible.

Editorial Board

• Logan Molen, publisher

• Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Marion Kahn, community representative

• Laraine Martin, community representative

Contact the Editorial Board at 970-871-4221 or lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com.

Since the pandemic started, more research has been conducted on the use of masks, and experts are clear that masks help reduce transmission of disease, but mask use alone is not enough to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in a community. It’s imperative that students also continue following other suggested protocol, such as frequent hand washing, social distancing and staying home when sick.

Mask wearing is far less disruptive than quarantines, and as the school year proceeds and disease prevalence changes, adjustments can be made and maybe, at some point, masks become optional. But in the meantime, it’s time to put divisive issues, like masks, aside, and as a community, support teachers and staff as they focus on the important work of educating our children.

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