There is no greater concern or priority for parents than the health and welfare of their children. This must be one of our nation’s top priorities. This is not a partisan political issue. This is about the future of our nation. This month rallies have been held across the country against school mask mandates; not only in deep-red states like Alabama but liberal hotspots like New York and California. Rally participants traveled hours to their respective state capitals to hold peaceful protests against these devastating mandates on the students in their local communities.
The common theme in these rallies is “medical freedom” for parents. It is the God-given right as well as the constitutional right for parents and legal guardians, not the government, to make decisions concerning the care of their children. These rally participants are not anti-vaccine or anti-masks. They are pro-parent. Parents and guardians must be the ones to make decisions on where and when their children wear masks. Every child is an individual and every decision must be made on an individual basis.
Parents fully realize the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends masks. They also know that research has found no statistically significant link between mandatory masking for students and reduced transmission of COVID-19 even the highly contagious Omicron variant. They realize the CDC itself admits that certain masks may be ineffective due to the material from which they are made or how they are worn. It is almost impossible to teach young children to properly wear socks much less a mask.
Parents' primary concern, as it well should be, is not COVID itself but the devastating harm mask requirements in schools have inflicted on the mental well-being, emotional development, and cognitive learning of our students.
Even the left-leaning Atlantic Monthly sees the problem and stated in a recent article: “Children have unique needs and vulnerabilities more than adults. Early childhood is a crucial period when humans develop cultural, language, and social skills, including the ability to detect emotion on other people’s faces. Social interactions with friends, parents and caregivers are integral to fostering children’s growth and well-being.”
This is especially devastating to neurodiverse children in our public school system who, in most circumstances based on their particular disability, public school is their only option.
Many of us in Alabama think of this as a problem for other states. This is not the case. Many local school boards in Alabama have issued mask mandates on their own accord without consulting parents and the community concerning their decision to impose mask mandates. They are refusing to back down.
These local mask mandates led me to sponsor a resolution for adoption by the State Republican Executive urging Governor Kay Ivey to issue an Executive Order banning local boards of education from issuing mask mandates for students, faculty or staff. This resolution further forbids schools from discriminating against students that are not wearing masks, something that has happened across the country. You can read my resolution in its entirety on the website LetThePeopleSpeak.us.
Our students have a lot of work to do. In many cases, two years of learning have been lost. We must remove all barriers to learning, such as ineffective burdensome masks. We must be totally focused on our young students catching up and returning to their education schedule.
Perry Hooper is a former Alabama Representative and currently president of Hooper and Associates in Montgomery. He was the Alabama Trump Victory Chairman in 2016 and an Alabama Trump Team Leader in 2020. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.