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Town-By-Town Mask Requirements a Harbinger of Town-By-Town School Openings

August 5, 2020

Our local newspaper’s headline story is that two NH towns in our region, Hanover and Enfield, are mandating the wearing of masks in businesses and in certain geographical areas. In both cases, the public schools fall within the mandated area.

In the meantime, several contingent towns have not passed mask mandates. This is leading to a set of circumstances where I could go shopping in one town and need to wear a mask or travel three miles down the road and go to the same grocery store chain and NOT be required to wear a mask. The last time I looked, the coronavirus doesn’t care very much about NATIONAL borders let alone STATE or TOWN borders.

The mask mandate serves as a good metaphor for school openings as well. If Hanover opens with one set of guidelines and Lebanon opens with another set, how will they explain their variances to their respective parents. Why, for example, would it be OK for one district to open in-person five days a week while another opens only one day a week? And how on earth will high schools ever be able to schedule any kinds of athletic competitions unless their schools are open on the same days?

This predicament underscores the reality that HEALTH mandates can only come from the top down and, in the case of a pandemic, they need to be uniform across the nation. The longer we live with COVID 19, the more I believe we are accepting the reality that we know very little about the spread of this disease and even less about its long term impacts. How can we place our children and our public education staff at risk given these unknowns? In the interest of the well being of the greatest number we should adapt our school schedule for the balance of the year and reach a NATIONAL consensus on how to manage its spread. Based on all the evidence gathered to date it is clear that if the management of the COVID 19 is left to states or towns or school districts the disease will continue to spread.


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