Home > Essays > Mask Issue Illustrates Foolhardiness and Spinelessness of Governors, Puts School Boards in the Crosshairs

Mask Issue Illustrates Foolhardiness and Spinelessness of Governors, Puts School Boards in the Crosshairs

August 26, 2021

The whole debate on whether students should wear masks in schools illustrates the foolhardiness and spinelessness of Governors and legislators who are unwilling to mandate or enforce the wearing of masks to prevent the spread of Covid 19 and its variants.

Texas’ Greg Abbott and Florida’s Ron DeSantis are examples of foolhardiness as they insist that school districts not enact mask mandates under any circumstances whatsoever, despite skyrocketing cases in both states and bursting ICUs in Florida. They are not alone, though their states are the worst to date.

Ethan DeWitt’s article on New Hampshire Governor Sununu’s response to the question of masks illustrates spinelessness. When asked about mandating masks, the Governor responded:

“If you are thinking this is about the mask or no mask, you are missing the boat,” he said at a press conference this month. “Vaccine, vaccine, vaccine. Masks are not the solution. Vaccines are.”

Evidently the Governor is unaware of the fact that vaccines are not available for most school children even though the number of cases among children are increasing. He IS aware, though, that masks have become a divisive issue in large measure because his political party, the GOP, made it so. But in New Hampshire, one of the few states that does not mandate motorcycle helmets and one of many states with inequitable and inadequate funding for public schools, health, and safety, ANY mandate based on public well-being will be rejected as out of bounds.

Meanwhile in Vermont, GOP Governor Scott seems to be using that state’s high vaccination rates as the basis for passing the decision on masking students down to local school boards. Their problem is summed up in this comment from Dartmouth data maven Anne Sosin:

Anne Sosin, a rural health researcher and policy fellow at Dartmouth College’s Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, said the current guidance from the state is “really, really muddled.”

State leaders are rightly proud of Vermont’s nation-leading 85 percent vaccination rate, she said. But with the evidence that breakthrough cases are rising, the state should broaden its approach and get off its high horse, she said.

The vaccination rate in Essex County is 60 percent — 25 percentage points below the state average, and Vermont’s lowest, Sosin noted. Allowing kids to go back to school unmasked in a community (Canaan) with an under-vaccinated population and a more contagious variant is reckless, not just on the part of the school board but also the state leaders who left the decision up to them.

“The administration is doubling down on a success narrative when we need to be doubling down on protecting our unvaccinated kids as they head back to school,” Sosin said.

Based on his administration’s response to masking mandates I’m not sure whether Governor Scott is foolhardy or spineless… but I DO know he is headstrong in the face of scientific evidence and sound medical advice.

Categories: Essays Tags:
%d bloggers like this: