Saint Mark Catholic School Mask Mandate

Saint Mark Catholic School Mask Mandate

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Petition to
Parents of Students at Saint Mark Catholic School

Why this petition matters

Started by SMCS Parents

February 2022

An Open Letter to Principal Clarence Burton and Father Gregory Spencer:

We are writing to you today as concerned parents. For the last two years our children have been forced – for the first time in history – to wear masks daily to protect against an airborne, aerosolized respiratory virus.

Currently, New Hanover County Health and Human services does not mandate masks inside buildings, and St. Mark Parish does not require its parishioners to wear masks to masses, but we continue to make our children who attend school on a regular basis wearing them for 7 hours a day.

These policies have caused considerable collateral damage throughout the pandemic and have lost their justification as necessary for prevention of serious illness and death. They continue to negatively affect our children’s mental and physical health, and we firmly believe that every St. Mark family should be allowed to make an informed decision on their children’s behalf moving forward.

We would appreciate the mask policy be updated to mask optional effective immediately.

We are writing to ask those in charge of making these policies to acknowledge the endemic nature of COVID-19 after the Omicron surge and immediately shift our dialogue toward defining a path for removing all remaining COVID-19 restrictions.

We implore you to do the following:

1.   Acknowledge that at this point in the pandemic, the burden of proof must rest with school leadership to show – with scientific evidence – that mask both help keep our children safe AND pose no harm.

2. Acknowledge that any adult and most school age children have now had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated if they have chosen to do so.

3.     Acknowledge that the parents requesting a mask optional policy are not the fringe minority and we would like that option to make such informed decisions for our children after two years of restrictions. The risk of severe COVID among children is significantly lower than in adults and our children deserve the right to gain back a sense of normalcy during these formative years.

4.     Acknowledge the smaller risk that COVID-19 illness poses to children compared to the disproportionate toll that mitigation measures have taken on children. The same number of children aged 5-11 who died from COVID from October 2020-October 2021(66) also died of Suicide. Influenza and Pneumonia were ranked higher in mortality during this same time frame.

5.     Acknowledge the ongoing mental health crisis that is present in our children and teens due to social isolation and anxiety that has been created by this pandemic.

6.     Acknowledge the ongoing educational crisis that is unfolding before us so long as children cannot see their teachers’ and peers’ faces and adequately hear and interact with them.

7.     Acknowledge the potential developmental harm that is caused to young children who do not get to see their teachers’ mouths when they are being spoken to nor see their full facial expressions in their interactions.

8.     Acknowledge that the present Omicron variant is less deadly than prior variants. The number of students and staff at St. Mark that have had COVID to date is fairly high and they will have some level of protective immunity moving forward.

10.     Commit to a cost-benefit analysis for all COVID restrictive policies to ensure that benefit always outweighs harm, without disproportionately prioritizing prevention of COVID-19 transmission above all other health considerations.

We look forward to a constructive, considerate and cooperative conversation amongst St. Mark Staff and Families as we move forward to establish a path to normalcy in our schools and beyond.

God Bless,

48 have signed. Let’s get to 50!