A group of physicians have sent a letter urging Mason school officials to rethink their recent announcement about making mask-wearing optional when classes start later this month, according to the Journal-News.
The letter, which claims the backing of 103 doctors listed on it who either work or live in the Mason and Deerfield Twp. communities, calls for Mason Schools to mandate masks indoors during school.
“Optional masking is simply not sufficient, as masks are most effective when all parties are wearing them. Parents, students and staff should not be given the choice to mask when this choice endangers the health of other children and staff,” states the letter, which was sent to Mason school officials Monday.
The physicians contend Mason’s “recommendation is in direct opposition to guidance released by the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP),” among others.
“The CDC and AAP have both released updated school guidance strongly recommending universal masking for all students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. Unfortunately, none of these entities has the ability to overtly mandate masks, but instead they can make the recommendation of universal masking, which they have all done. It is ultimately up to the school district to implement such a requirement,” stated the letter.
The Mason school district has the largest enrollment in Warren County and has in the past regularly been among the top academic performers among all of Ohio’s 613 public school districts.
Tracey Carson, spokeswoman for Mason Schools, said the district received the letter but will continue to follow the recommendations of state and county health officials in “strongly recommending” students and staff wear masks.
“We agree that it is critical that we remain vigilant with what we are doing to protect students and in doing everything we can to keep them healthy and in school,” said Carson.
Separately, a recent announcement sent to Mason school families regarding the status of masks stated: “While at school it’s strongly recommended, but not required, that unvaccinated students and staff wear a face covering/mask while indoors. If requirements change, Mason will adjust as well.”
But the Aug. 2 letter from the doctors also included a warning.
“As medical professionals, we can also attest that we are unfortunately under-testing due to many symptomatic patients refusing testing, and we are concerned that many parents of sick students will do the same. With the delta variant currently causing surges across the country, and outbreaks occurring in youth summer camps where masks and vaccines were not required, we can expect our local COVID numbers to continue to worsen.”
“We empathize with the desire to return to “normalcy”; the pandemic has certainly taken a toll on all of us. We are hopeful that by the end of this calendar year, and possibly sooner, all school-aged children will have the ability to be fully vaccinated. Until that time, we unequivocally ask that the Mason City School board and administration continue to listen to scientific advice, including mandatory masking of all children and staff at all schools.”
Nikki Foster, who is a Mason school parent and shared the physicians’ letter with area news media, said she agrees with the doctors’ position and wanted to promote it by sharing it with the public.
“I’d rather be safe than sorry,” said Foster, a former Ohio Congressional candidate. “And it’s science. They (physicians) talk about CDC guidelines and many others. I stand by those physicians.”