Back to school: safety first, including masks

COMMENTARY

MILT THOMAS

Schools have prepared for the first full day of school, taking all available precautions. But without a vaccine, children, teachers and virtually anyone who works or visits a school may be at risk for the coronavirus. The good news though, is that it appears new coronavirus case numbers are trending down in Florida. While some of that decrease may relate to a decrease in testing, the most likely reason is the widespread use of face masks and/or social distancing, thanks to the proactive efforts by private business to enforce these precautions.

For those who for whatever personal reasons oppose face masks, the results cannot be denied. After suffering devastating losses in the pandemic’s early days, nearly every advanced country in the world as well as states that took action to enforce these precautions, saw a dramatic drop in cases and deaths. Asian countries, including China, where the use of face masks is common, have nearly eliminated the virus. Countries that have failed to embrace the use of face masks, including the United States and Brazil, have seen an ongoing surge in cases and deaths. Even in countries and states that have taken those precautions, but later loosened restrictions, have experienced a resurgence of the virus. The fact remains that until an approved vaccine comes along, the only available precaution is wearing face masks and social distancing .

So the question is, if the Indian River County School Board is requiring all in-school students and staff to wear face masks, how will the fervent anti-maskers advise their own children?  In spite of these rules adopted by the School Board, some parents may fear exposing their children to those who choose not to follow these rules. It will depend on strict enforcement to give parents confidence they can send their kids to school.

We all hope for a vaccine and the prospect of life returning to normal, but until then, the virus is not going away. So, let us protect our children – and each other – by wearing face masks and where possible, practice social distancing.

 

 

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