Revise the "At All Times" Mask Mandate for Elementary Students at SJB

Revise the "At All Times" Mask Mandate for Elementary Students at SJB

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Support Parent Choice At SJB started this petition to The Diocese of Orange Department of Catholic Schools & St. John the Baptist Catholic School

Dear Friends of Saint John the Baptist Catholic School, 

An open letter has been written in light of the new guidelines for reopening in-person instruction from the California Department of Public Health that mandates all day mask wearing for all students, TK-8th grade. 

To counteract this mandate which would force the youngest members of our school community to wear masks at all times against the wishes of their parents, we ask that you sign this open letter below which invokes our Diocese and beloved St. John the Baptist school to revise the updated mask mandate for the lower elementary students: 

An Open Letter to the Administration, Faculty, Staff and Community of St. John the Baptist Catholic School and the Diocese of Orange Department of Catholic Schools Regarding the Revised Reopening Guidelines Issued by the CDPH Mandating All Day Masks for TK-6th Grade

We are called to write this letter in response to the adjusted reopening guidelines issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), which the diocese has accepted seemingly without question, regarding the updated all day mask mandate extending to all children on campus, TK-8th grade.

First and foremost, we seek to support our beloved St. John the Baptist Catholic School. Our gratitude for the hard work done and modifications made to provide our children with in-person education during the 2020-2021 school year is immeasurable. Our SJB Administration, Faculty, and Staff have worked tirelessly to this end, and they have our full support.

It is in light of our love and support for SJB that we feel it is necessary to defend her from oppressive, unsubstantiated, and draconian impositions from the state that affect the youngest, most impressionable members of our school community.

We must point out that SJB has been in compliance with every reasonable requirement for reopening in-person instruction, as they have been reasonable measures in slowing the spread of Covid-19.

But now, the state oversteps, seemingly without cause.

We must clearly state that though Covid-19 poses a serious public health threat, responses to the virus must be proportional to the measures imposed, especially when such measures directly affect the physical, psychological, and social health of young children.

There are numerous reports, studies, and personal testimonies regarding the lack of efficacy and potential harm of prolonged mask wearing for young children both in the classroom and outdoors during physical play.

Most clearly, however, The World Health Organization and UNICEF unequivocally state​ that ​“Children aged 5 years and under ​should not​ be required to wear masks. This is based on the safety and overall interest of the child and the capacity to appropriately use a mask with minimal assistance.”

For children aged 6-11, WHO and UNICEF also state that decision of masks rides on these factors:

●  Whether there is widespread transmission in the area where the child resides
●  The ability of the child to safely and appropriately use a mask
●  Access to masks, as well as laundering and replacement of masks in certain settings (such as schools and childcare services)
●  Adequate adult supervision and instructions to the child on how to put on, take off and safely wear masks
●  Potential impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, in consultation with teachers, parents/caregivers and/or medical providers
●  Specific settings and interactions the child has with other people who are at high risk of developing serious illness, such as the elderly and those with other underlying health conditions

In response to those factors, we the undersigned feel they do not warrant all day mask wearing for ages 6-11 at SJB where there is already desk barriers, social distancing, disinfection of surfaces, and classroom “pods” established because:

●  There is not widespread transmission on the St. John the Baptist campus
●  Children of this age constantly adjust, drop, and improperly wear masks rendering them ineffective and potentially harmful
●  Although children have access to masks, they are not cleaned or laundered on campus nor, in all realism, every day at home
●  Adult supervision and instruction involved in putting on, taking off, and safely wearing masks cuts into the teachers ability to teach both in person and online effectively and involves an excess of correction that does not spend class time wisely
●  There is a high impact of wearing a mask on learning and psychosocial development, especially for the lower grade levels
●  There is little to no intimate interaction between young children in the classroom or on the playground with high risk individuals

Furthermore, ​information provided by the CDPH itself​ details that “children seem to get COVID-19 less frequently than adults,” and “when children do get COVID-19, the predominant pattern of transmission is to get the infection from an adult household contact” not from school. Finally, it posits “adult-to-adult transmission is the most likely scenario for in-school transmission.”

SJB’s history with positive Covid cases supports these facts. Campus has been open for over 150 days. Of the small handful of cases, no cases were traced to originating or spreading on campus, nor spreading from student to teacher.

We feel the facts and data at hand make mandated all-day mask wearing for elementary grades both ill founded and overbearing. Combined with the potential physical, emotional, and social health risks of all day mask wearing for young children, it is also irresponsible and injurious.

The letter from the Diocese Department of Catholic Schools outlining these updated guidelines gives neither reason for such imposition, as it seems there is none, nor concern for our young children’s health. Ultimately, we invoke St. John the Baptist and the Diocese of Orange to value the wellbeing of the youngest members of our schools over compliance with unreasonable, contradictory ordinances.

Therefore, with unwavering support for St. John the Baptist Administration, Faculty and Staff, and with deep gratitude for the unparalleled spiritual formation and academic education SJB offers, we ask ​that the all-day mask wearing for 4 to 11 year olds remains the prerogative of the parents of children in question​ as it has been all year.

We pray that our friends at the Diocese and SJB uphold their commitment to nurturing the whole-person health of our children over compliance with unreasonable and illogical demands made by the state.

With humility and hope,

The undersigned:

 

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