Letter to the letter – August 30, 2021

Dear editor,

Every year, across the nation, we take preliminary action to protect our children in public schools by having children from pre-K through high school practice active shooter drills so they’re ready for the extremely slim chance that someone will come to their school with a gun. 

Right now, there is an actual threat to our children, and we aren’t doing anything about it. It’s not a chance or a possibility that COVID-19 will come into our schools. It’s a fact. And yet, we’re doing nothing to protect our children from this very real danger. Across the nation, pediatric ICUs are filling up with COVID-19 patients. Cases among children are skyrocketing. Thousands upon thousands of children have been exposed to this virus — currently as contagious as polio and smallpox — which can have long-term health effects or even be fatal. And yet, we do nothing.

But there is a very simple measure we can and should take to protect our children and our community. Require masks in school, for educators, staff, and students. The science is very clear that masks are effective at reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

This is not a matter of politics or personal beliefs. The virus doesn’t care about politics or personal beliefs. It exists solely to replicate itself by infecting people. And that is what it will do if we take zero measures to stop it. In a rural community like ours, the results could be devastating. 

The cities with the hospitals we will be sent to when our small hospital inevitably and quickly is overwhelmed should the delta variant get a stronghold here are struggling themselves with overflow from other towns that thought they were somehow impervious to this virus, which has killed and disabled millions of people around the world. 

To act as though children do not need protection from this virus — as though hospitalization rates for children aren’t the highest they’ve ever been, as they won’t go home and spread this highly contagious variant to their families — is to be completely ignorant of the reality before us. 

Masks do work. Children are not harmed by them. And we are doing our children a great disservice by not requiring them in school, effectively prolonging this pandemic and taking more of their precious childhood away from them.

I pose a question to the school board: If you’re willing to take action to protect our children from a potential school shooter, why do you do nothing when a very real threat is here already, threatening their health and, potentially, their lives? 

Tracy Call-Keagle,

 Iola, Kan.