SENGENBERGER | Finally, children can see faces | Opinion

Jimmy Sengenberger

On Thursday, the Denver Public Schools Board — one of Colorado’s latest holdouts for the forced masking of K-12 schools — is expected to stick to its plan to eliminate its mask mandate starting Monday. February 28. This is because, with reality setting in, school mask mandates are now politically untenable.

Provided the DPS doesn’t go back in time — the Denver Classroom Teachers Association foolishly pushes to retain the tenure — it’s a loss for DPS Board Vice Chairman Tay Anderson, who flatly denies the science showing harm to children. Surely many well-meaning people have favored school mask mandates with good intentions, but Anderson is certainly not one of them.

On Feb. 2, he threatened to “propose a policy to add masks to our district’s dress code” if his school district relaxed masks. “It’s simple if you don’t want your student wearing a mask at school,” Anderson tweeted with a chuckle, “KEEP THEM HOME.”

Exactly a week later, Anderson’s cocky chest pump nodded to reality.

“(I) in consultation with some of my colleagues, I am satisfied that I do not have the necessary support to move forward with this policy proposal,” he wrote in a Feb. 9 statement. “I respect their opinions, even if we don’t agree. It is an example of good governance.

As the winter winds clearly blew against his silly dress code idea, the beleaguered school board member relented. Yet he maintains his anti-science support for mask mandates.

“I must reiterate my strong support for masking because science has said it works to reduce the spread of multiple viruses, not just COVID,” he wrote, urging voters to “express their opinions” during comments. public at tomorrow night’s meeting.

Absolutely, teachers, parents and students should comment at the meeting – in favor of rejecting the mask mandate.

Since the start of the pandemic, this column has urged policy makers to consider cost-benefit analysis of their COVID-19 policies – particularly regarding children.

As early as July 2020, I advocated for the reopening of schools for in-person learning. “If you think quality education is important, you want kids to go back to school. Period,” I wrote.

I also called on districts to “provide teachers — especially elementary educators — with face shields instead of face masks. This way, students will feel more comfortable being able to see the faces of their teachers. Imagine an anxious kindergarten student placed in school for the first time, and her new teacher’s face is covered with a mask.

The evidence confirmed it. An honest cost-benefit analysis has always been against remote learning and mask mandates. Last year, in both New York Magazine and The Atlantic, David Zweig documented not only the weak scientific evidence for these policies, but also how most European countries have kept schools open and rejected mandates. of mask.

Who seriously believes that the benefits outweigh the costs now, anyway? As I wrote in CoPo in August 2021, “The science is clear on this.” Let’s review some of what I wrote then:

“A 2018 article in Parenting Science reports that children with ‘better face-reading skills may become more popular in school’ and ‘tend to perform better academically.'” Experiments suggest that “people who better identify scary expressions are more kind and generous”. And “children who have more difficulty identifying emotions in faces are more likely to have problems with their peers and learning difficulties”.

TCHD’s order — as well as individual district mask mandates — includes very young children, toddlers and preschoolers. Strikingly, Parenting Science observes that “preschoolers with low face reading skills for their age are more likely to have externalizing behavior problems, such as hyperactivity (Chronaki et al 2015a). While they tend to be shy, these children are also more likely to suffer from anxiety (Sette et al 2016).’”

I pointed to a 2016 study from the National Institutes of Health, which “concluded that context, such as that of a school environment – where children spend most of their days during the year – is critical to children under the age of 12”.

The cost-benefit analysis was already evident at the time: “COVID-19 is unlikely to cause the kind of long-term harm to so many children” that school mask mandates will.

I hate to say it, but I told you. Psychologists, doctors, researchers, Democratic politicians and the mainstream media are finally – and regularly – warning of the harm of keeping children masked, from academic impairments and social development issues to the explosion of the mental health crisis.

Dr David Rubin of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia observed that “the risks in terms of (children’s) mental health (and) continued learning loss – these types of things are now much bigger than the virus to him -same”.

A recent study from York University in Toronto found significant impairment in children recognizing masked faces. “If holistic processing is impaired and recognition is impaired, it may impair children’s ability to navigate social interactions with peers and teachers, which could lead to problems forming important relationships” said the study’s lead author, Professor Erez Freud. , noted.

The data is there and the evidence is clear. The parents stand up. The reality is so compelling that, across the country, the political winds have been strongly against K-12 mask mandates.

No matter how stubbornly the Tay Andersons of the world deny science, it’s high time to unmask the children of Colorado.

Jimmy Sengenberger hosts “The Jimmy Sengenberger Show” Saturdays from 6-9am on News/Talk 710 KNUS. He also hosts “Jimmy at the Crossroads”, a webcast and podcast in partnership with The Washington Examiner.

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