Loveland Magazine received this Guest Column from the parent of Loveland school students who asked us not to reveal their identity.

By: Anonymous Parent of Loveland Students

The start of a new school year has sparked a debate in the Loveland community that is arguably more divisive than the 2020 presidential election. We are nearly a year and a half into the outbreak of Covid-19 and parents, public health agencies, and school officials are divided on whether or not masks should be mandated in our schools. On one side you have those concerned about the desire to protect the physical health of citizens and minimize the spread of Covid-19. On the other are those concerned about the educational, social, and mental health effects universal masking has on students. We all want what is best for our children, individually and collectively. Both sides should find this common ground while showing empathy for the opposing view. I don’t think that is in question. The real question is at what point are we taking unnecessary measures that are hurting our children out of an overabundance of caution?

Last school year our state government and the Ohio Department of Health used their powers to enforce universal mask mandates in schools and other locations. These were highly controversial decisions causing state legislative action. Here we are at the start of another school year and these agencies responsible for assessing and enforcing mandates are not able to do so. If our expert public health officials are not making the decisions to enact universal mask mandates then there is no reasonable expectation that a local school board can effectively make decisions to mandate the behavior of families and students regarding their health. A mandate for public health purposes should not be coming from our local school board. In the absence of state and health department mandates, these decisions are best made by each family with the guidance of their healthcare providers.

Parents and guardians are tasked with the decision of whether or not to send their children to school in masks. We are pulled between a desire to protect citizens from Covid-19 and to protect our children from the negative educational, social, and mental health issues related to universal masking. Generally speaking, children are spared from the severe consequences of Covid-19. According to some of the most comprehensive studies to date, children are at an extremely slim risk of dying of Covid-19. In fact, children are more likely to die of homicides or drownings, and I don’t see anyone shutting down their pools. The mortality rate among children is actually lower than that from the flu and the risk of severe disease or hospitalization is about the same.

So, I’ll ask again, at what point are we taking unnecessary measures that are hurting our children out of an overabundance of caution? That is ultimately what is in question. We are left with a debate between physical health and causing educational, social, and mental harm. To the best of my knowledge, there have not been any Loveland student deaths related to Covid-19, however, we undoubtedly have many students suffering educationally and from social and mental health issues related to universal masking in their learning environment. This cannot be ignored any longer. At some point, our community must realize that mask mandates imposed on our children can have a greater impact on public health than Covid-19 itself.