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A Commonsense Approach to Keep Schools In-Person

Education advocacy group writes in support of governor’s school mask mandate

 · September 30, 2021
two children wearing face masks and carrying backpacks

S.A.F.E. Schools (Safe, Accountable, Forward, Equitable) and active education advocates in Delaware want to publicly thank Governor Carney for taking the lead and implementing CDC and AAP guidelines with regard to mandatory mask wearing in Delaware schools since mid-August.

Thank you, Governor Carney. 

We see this as an act of kindness and leadership, and it gives us comfort on a daily basis in a decidedly unwelcoming pandemic landscape. 

By making our voices heard on mandatory mask wearing, education advocates as a group want to unify and assist Governor Carney in being nimble and responsive to the dynamic environment the Delta variant has created and potential future COVID variants could amplify. 

We want to be part of a team that is actively striving for as many wins as possible.

A big win would be to keep kids in Delaware physically present in school for the entire year. This will increase equity, mitigate learning loss, and improve children’s mental health.

Community testing gets the thumbs up and working together to increase on-site Quidel coronavirus testing participation in Delaware’s over 300 schools could also help achieve our goal of sustaining in person learning.

We are aAsking Delaware School Boards to approve and support the actions outlined in Delaware Office of Management and Budget Director Cerron Cade’s recent memo that funds up to 10 days of paid COVID leave for employees, inclusive of part-time and casual/seasonal employees – this will help teachers, staff and therefore our wider community to stay S.A.F.E.

To Delaware parents who have come forward at local School Board meetings and oppose the mandatory mask mandate, we ask – why leave students under 12 years of age more vulnerable when there is a solution available that we know will help slow the spread? 

There is a 100% chance for human error here. It doesn’t matter how informed we think we are or how we choose to handle Covid within our own families.  We, as individuals and together, will mess up.

Commercial airline pilots experience the same inevitable situation of human error every time they take our lives into their hands in flight. Pilots have a system of protocols and cross checks to filter out any possibility of foreseeable fatality. They only keep us safe by working as a team.

My own father had a 30-year Air Force career. As an aircraft commander for AC-130H gunships, he would monitor five intercom systems simultaneously while working in command of a 15-person crew, each with an assigned specialty. He described achieving a mission’s objective as a balancing act of knowing when to listen, when to speak, when to lead and when to learn from others – knowing change was inevitable.

The specific variables are moving targets, yet currently antigen testing, social distancing, and hand washing are all needed measures. Mask wearing is a crucial component in the latest survival manual for our children, but not the only one. And students aren’t the only at-risk population. Students, parents, teachers, and staff are on the same team, and we all have a stake in a S.A.F.E. environment.

Thank you, Governor Carney, for taking the health of Delawareans to heart and bearing the burden for us. We greatly appreciate your efforts.

S.A.F.E. Schools Delaware is a community-based group that is dedicated to children’s health, well-being and equitable treatment within the Delaware education system.

About the Author

Read more from Amy Gallagher.