Bring SMFCSD in line with county/state mask guidelines.
Bring SMFCSD in line with county/state mask guidelines.
Why this petition matters
This petition would impact over 10k students that are enrolled in the San Mateo-Foster City School District. We are asking the school board to change its mask guidance to coincide with the county or state at large.
If you need more data before signing, please read the toolkit available at www.urgencyofnormal.com
As parents with students in SMFCSD we would like to first thank the School Board, teachers, and staff for all their hard work during the pandemic. We understand that a lot of sacrifices, blood, sweat, and tears have gone into keeping our students learning and connected to one another and their teachers over the past two years.
We would also like to thank all the families in the school district. During the past two years we have not always agreed on the path forward, but, our county has done everything asked of us. We have quarantined, socially distanced, masked, tested, isolated, vaccinated, and boosted in very high percentages. The result has been that we have lived in one of the safest places in the country during this pandemic. We know families have been impacted, lost jobs, some became ill, and others have lost loved ones.
We have come to the point in the pandemic that we believe some restrictions at schools are causing more harm and long-term effects than Covid itself. For that reason we would like to ask the school board to please align with the state and/or county and remove mask requirements from schools as soon as possible.
Currently, the school district's policy mandates that all students regardless of vaccination status wear a mask indoors. While this was prudent both early in the pandemic, through the Delta surge, and as we waited for our county vaccination percentages to rise above 80%, it doesn't make as much sense now.
Omicron threw a wrench into the county's plans to remove masks back in December. With Omicron now subsiding, hospitalizations having peaked well below all previous surges, and living in one of the most highly vaccinated places in the world, it is time to reconsider our priorities.
Since the start of this pandemic in March of 2020, there have been a total of ZERO deaths between the ages of 0-5, and 6-19 in our county. (see www.smchealth.org ) The risk of severe disease is minimal. Long covid has proved to not be an issue for those that are vaccinated. We also know that children are the least likely to be affected severely by Covid and its variants.
However, we continue to demand that our children bear the brunt of restrictions. We can continue using masks, which at this point will have little impact on our case numbers, but we are doing so at the expense of our children.
- They have sacrificed a year of in-person learning.
- Their mental health has taken a severe toll.
- Their physical health has declined.
- Our children are seeing learning delays across all grades.
- Their relationships with their peers have been impacted.
- They are constantly on screens.
- They've lost friends who were forced to move.
- Some kids have never experienced a "normal" year of school.
- and so on, and so on, and so on...
It's time to give them their childhoods back.
We've asked them to continue wearing masks, even in points of the pandemic where adults were free to eat indoors, attend concerts, and drink in bars, completely maskless. How is this fair? The level of risk/reward for masks is no longer positive. We are doing more harm than good at this point.
Pre-vaccines, we agreed that masks were important. We have now given enough time for all that want to be vaccinated to have done so. If we lived in a different part of the country where vaccinations rates were low, we might see things differently. However, we live here, in San Mateo County, where we have a 95% vaccination rate, and over 93% of kids over 5 have been vaccinated. It's time to move on. The risk to kids and teachers is low.
Our community has done just about everything that has been asked of us for two years. With the current risks being so minimal, vaccines availability, and treatments at our disposal, we can't act like it's 2020, or even early 2021. We should be setting an example to the rest of the nation of what is possible when your community is highly vaccinated and follows the science.
For those concerned about hospitals, the latest surge proved that our high vaccination rates were enough to keep them from being overwhelmed. Our cases were almost 4x higher than at any previous point in the pandemic and our hospitals only saw half the surge they did during the previous winter when we did not have vaccines available. That is something we should acknowledge.
It is time that our children start a path on the return to normal. We are not asking that the school board move hastily, or without regard for the current situation. We are asking that the school board get in line with the state and/or county and remove mask mandates at the same time. When the state/county deems it safe to make masks optional for indoor activities, that needs to include our schools.
The following list is from a similar petition asking Gov. Newsom to take kids into account when masks are allowed to be removed. It was written by local doctors, not parents.
Jeanne Noble, MD, MA, Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine, Director of COVID-19 Response for the UCSF Parnassus Emergency Department
Jennifer Nguyen, MD, Pediatrician, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, Alta Bates Summit Medical Center
Vinay Prasad, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, UCSF, Hematologist-Oncologist, San Francisco General Hospital
Jarrett Moyer, MD, Surgery and Bioengineering, UCSF
Laura Chinnavaso, RN, BSN, Alameda County Disaster Relief, COVID-19 Response
We implore you to do the following:
1. Acknowledge that any adult and most school-age children have now had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, and that forcing further mandates, particularly requiring boosters for children, is likely to increase mistrust and resentment of the government and public health officials.
2. Acknowledge that many families in California vaccinated their children for the good of society since children are at lower risk of severe disease.
3. Acknowledge that vaccinated individuals of all ages in this state have been waiting for a reward for their efforts in the form of a major relaxation of restrictions which they have yet to receive.
4. Acknowledge that the public is weary from two years of restrictions, shifting messages from government officials, and a failure to acknowledge that the risk of severe COVID among children is significantly lower than in adults; indeed, it could take well over a generation for government leaders and infectious disease experts to regain the public’s trust.
5. Acknowledge the smaller risk that COVID-19 illness poses to children compared to the disproportionate toll that mitigation measures have taken on children.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. Immediately allow school children to unmask while outdoors, including during sports, by clarifying that outdoor exposures to COVID-19 are exceedingly low-risk encounters and should not qualify as close contacts for the purpose of quarantines.
9. Make masks optional while indoors in school settings when California's general mask mandate expires on February 15, 2022, or no later than February 24, 2022, twelve weeks after the last public school child became eligible for the vaccine.
10. Acknowledge the potential developmental harm that is caused to infants and toddlers who do not get to see their caregivers’ and teachers’ mouths when they are being spoken to nor see their full facial expressions in their interactions.
11. Immediately allow preschool and daycare teachers and students to unmask at all times if they so choose. If they do not choose to, please provide them with the CDC guidance on masking options, emphasizing one-way masking as a protective strategy.
12. Work towards ending the mindless testing of asymptomatic individuals with no clear purpose given that COVID-19 is here to stay.
13. Acknowledge that policies on college campuses should recognize that population’s relative low risk and high vaccination rate, thus not warranting returns to distance learning that deprives our young adults of social interaction that is formative for a lifetime.
14. Immediately shift away from a public health response that is based on case rates to one that strictly looks at hospitalizations and deaths in a broader context.
15. Acknowledge that the present Omicron variant is less deadly than prior variants.
16. Acknowledge that true COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low in this state and particularly in the Bay Area and that we should refrain from panic-driven restrictions that inflict additional collateral damage on our most vulnerable populations, unjustified by a less deadly variant.
17. Commit to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis for all COVID restrictive policies to ensure that benefit always outweighs the harm, without disproportionately prioritizing prevention of COVID-19 transmission above all other health considerations.
18. (We are adding this to their list) - Allow kids to take their masks off outdoors for recess immediately.
We ask that you please take all these points into consideration as our local school board.
- San Mateo-Foster City School District