by Alison Despathy
All last year, children in the Newark Street School were required to mask despite the fact that mask mandates were dropped. Section 504, a federal civil rights statute, was used as justification for this action. Section 504 “prohibits discrimination against students with disabilities and guarantees them a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).” There is nothing in Section 504 that states that children can be put at risk or placed in harm’s way in order to provide protections for another student. Yet, this is exactly what the Newark mask policy did.
For months, opposition to masking was voiced at school board meetings. Many shared evidence of known harms related to masks including compromised gas exchange and body systems, especially those directly responsible for regulating oxygen levels such as the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems. Masks trigger the stress response due to reduced oxygen and the demand for increased and stronger inhalations regulated by the central nervous system. The impacts of chronic masking in children and the long term effects are unknown yet neurologists warn of harms due to reduced oxygen intake, especially in children. It is unethical to perform these types of studies on children, yet schools across America have participated in this experimentation.
It was shared multiple times that masks are not approved medical devices for infection control. Masks only hold an Emergency Use Authorization due to the lack of evidence supporting safe or effective use of masks for this purpose. Offering a false sense of security and a pretense of taking action does not justify this policy. Children were placed at risk and experienced compromised learning with the mask mandate at Newark Street School last year. They missed school due to mask issues and struggled with skin rashes and headaches. Alternatives to support all students were presented and ignored. This is a dangerous and unethical precedent.
Recently, Newark families received the following message in the their Back to School Newsletter
“I first want to thank all of you for masking as required for the past several years. I can’t begin to explain how appreciative and meaningful your effort as a community has been. The overwhelming majority of this community masked without complaints and without questions. Many of you did this with compassion and without having comprehension of why. Compassion without comprehension might be one of the strongest mindsets of humanity. And so many of you found your way to that place. I am in awe of those who did.
“’You don’t need to comprehend in order to have compassion.’ – Alok
“With that said, I would like to share with you that the Newark Street School will not be requiring masks to start the school year. We will remain a mask friendly environment, but not required.”
It is great news for the sake of the children that there will be no masking this year. However, this recent message is a gross manipulation of people and their innate goodness. It is this mentality of ‘compassion without comprehension’ that results in the abuses of people by those in positions of power who demand full compliance without question.
Can you imagine your child masked in school all day long for years? This is unethical and cruel. This message from the Newark School shames and silently berates concerned parents for questioning the mask policy. It expresses gratitude to those who didn’t ask questions or demand evidence of safety or efficacy. This response encourages obedience at all costs even when it relates to the safety and welfare of your children.
It is a parent’s duty to protect their children. Demanding answers and caring enough to be engaged and informed is both responsible and compassionate. The strongest mindset of humanity is critical thinking and the ability to speak up and take action when necessary. To ignore injustice and abuse is criminal, to play along destroys character.
The author is a clinical nutritionist in St. Johnsbury.