The letter below was sent to the Principal of St. Columban School today. A similar letter was sent to Superintendent Broadwater and the Loveland School Board yesterday.
Matt and Stefanie Laufersweiler have students enrolled in both school systems.
Dear Mrs. Muchmore,
I’m writing to urge you as you review plans for safely opening St. Columban School this year to not let the wants of parents steer you away from the objective guidance of healthcare professionals when putting measures in place to protect the health of our children. There are many who have expressed vocally their desire to return to school “unmasked” out of a desire to return to life as it was pre-COVID. However desirable this may seem, it does not consider the fact that case numbers are increasing and all counties in the area are now considered to be at the highest category for level of spread (https://www.cincinnati.com/…/covid-19-ohio…/5505300001/ ). In addition, with the Delta variant in particular, an increasing number of those infected are children (https://www.usatoday.com/…/covid-vaccines…/5532551001/ ) which has resulted in schools in other states having to move to remote learning very early in the school year due to COVID-19 outbreaks.
Last year St. Columban did an excellent job ensuring that spread in school was minimal by enforcing masking and distancing policies following the guidelines of healthcare professionals before vaccines were available. As you consider and pray over the best way to open school this year, we ask that you keep in mind the current spread and the recommendations of healthcare professionals.
To this point, the Ohio Department of Health released revised recommendations for schools K-12 on July 27th, and in doing so reference the current statistics and the effectiveness of measures used last school year to keep the children safe while ensuring they continue to get a quality education.
Encouragement of vaccination for those eligible is also important; however, many children that will be in the school are not eligible for vaccination at this time. The key factor to help protect those children is universal masking while indoors, until those kids have the opportunity to be vaccinated and the spread of COVID-19 is back under control.
It is also important to note that masking as a “personal choice” is ineffective in that the reason masks are effective is that they help to contain the spread from those who are unknowingly infected, preventing the aerosolization of the virus – they do little to help protect the individual wearer from already aerosolized virus (An evidence review of face masks against COVID-19 https://www.pnas.org/content/118/4/e2014564118 “Because many respiratory particles become smaller due to evaporation, we recommend increasing focus on a previously overlooked aspect of mask usage: mask wearing by infectious people (“source control”) with benefits at the population level, rather than only mask wearing by susceptible people, such as health care workers, with focus on individual outcomes.”).
This is not simply a desire of a parent; it is the objective recommendation of healthcare professionals to protect the health of our children and ensure that they can remain in school and involved in the extracurricular activities that they love. It is the responsibility of the school and the community to help keep our kids safe, even if it means the measures required to do so are not always popular.
Matt and Stefanie Laufersweiler