masks
It’s Time To Rethink Mask Mandates In K-12 Schools In Light Of Learning Loss And Disparate Treatment

November 7, 2021

By Loretta Hunnicutt |

Aside from the notable lost learning associated with masks among early readers, and the irritability masks foster, the most common criticism I hear from parents is that the masking policies are selectively applied and enforced.

The biggest disparity in the application and enforcement of masking policy appears to be between younger and older students. While younger students are statistically less likely to carry and spread Covid-19, the mandatory masking anecdotally is more strictly enforced in the younger age groups.

This disparity in treatment between different ages of students is obviously not based on the science of contagion and transmissibility. Yet, despite the fact that we have some of the best minds studying infectious disease and  months of accumulated data about COVID-19 upon which to create strategies to address this pandemic and develop sound policies to ensure acceptance of them, we still insist on imposing scientifically baseless mandates.

Worse yet, as previously noted, the mandates are disparately enforced in our schools.

How can we explain this phenomenon? Is it a result of something as innocent as a misunderstanding of the science, or something more insidious?

That disregard could stem from a bevy of malfeasant managers or politically motivated praxis pushed out by our colleges of education.

Too often we see overcrowded classrooms filled with teachers who have been denied basic training in classroom management by administrators who prefer to spend money on the training of failed restorative practices because the purveyors of such practices offer their trainings in more  desirable destinations. On the other hand, too many teachers display co-dependent tendencies that compel them to  control every aspect of their students’ behavior.

Unfortunately, because the largest teachers’ union, under the management of Randi Weingarten, a childless bully who has not spent any considerable time with third graders this century, is pushing masks, one might safely assume that the mandate is more political than anything else.

Still, what could make the average human being who selflessly serves society by training our youth to go along with the unions’ demands and so heartlessly impose such demeaning measures? I believe it could be a result of something that has evolved naturally in the K-12 setting over decades; a loss of regard for the individual.

Years ago, while taking a deep dive in the Critical Race Theory-based curriculum offered in the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD), we discovered the systematic effort to erase individual identity. Children at an early age were stripped of their individuality through a series of exercises intended to groom them as foot soldiers from a radical cause.

Rather than address children by their given names, they were referred to as “mija” and “mijo.” The patronizing practice left children feeling small, defenseless, but cared for. The children were then encouraged to repeat a pledge of allegiance similar to the message a sexual predator would send to a child: if you hurt me by telling our little secret, you will hurt yourself more.

We have seen a reference to that  pledge, In Lak Ech, plainly in Corwin’s Deep Equity program. However, that type of secret bonding is materializing in more subtle ways as Critical Race Theory-based curriculum is adopted for K-12 classrooms.

While I am not suggesting that those who are adamant about masking mandates are driven by a desire to build through problematization an angry army as the teachers were in  TUSD, that is exactly what they might be doing.

They certainly have created an army of concerned parents. Parents are concerned about learning  loss, the undermining of their authority, the arbitrary and capricious nature of quarantines, and the insistence that merit-based advancement is racist.

We have all seen the justifiable anger in our schoolboard meetings as parents fight desperately to stop the indoctrination of their children or the passage of pandemic-related policies that have zero foundation in science while sending families’ routines into chaos.

That chaos has created the need for more daycare providers, or left one parent out of a job, plunging families further into financial hardship and creating more victims of poverty.

As for young students, masking has a deleterious effect on language learning and as we know, language is our identity. As a result, the benefits of masking are far outweighed by the risks to young children. It is therefore imperative, that we step back and rethink the masking mandates in K-12.

Even if we are to ascribe the best motives to those who crafted the current policies, we are still obligated to reassess the situation and craft policies going forward that are neither influenced by politics or fake science.

Third graders cannot stay in third grade until we finally get this right. They have to move on and so we have to move on with crafting fact-based policies with urgency.

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