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School Masks: COVID-19 is still here and requires decisions

Unless something changes (and given the nature of this pandemic, it is entirely possible it will), West Virginia officials say there is no reason to impose statewide mask mandates on the state’s K-12 schools, colleges and universities for the fall.

“I think we’ve made phenomenal progress and it is an individual choice at this point and time,” said Gov. Jim Justice.

On the other hand, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that students age 2 and older in public schools SHOULD wear masks, regardless of vaccination status; and the Delta COVID-19 variant continues to spark questions.

“(The Delta variant) in the unvaccinated, that’s causing more and more severe problems, including in children and young adults, which we’re seeing in the hospitals and the ICUs around the country,” state coronavirus czar Dr. Clay Marsh said Tuesday.

When Justice talks about personal choice, then, it is important for parents to consider (if they have not already) whether they and children who are old enough should get vaccinated before the start of the school year. And they should consider sending kids to school with masks — bearing in mind peer pressure may make it tougher for kids to wear them.

On the other hand, parents who are not vaccinated, are not getting their kids vaccinated, and who are making it a point of personal pride not to wear masks or ask their kids to wear them, should at the very least have the decency to coach their children about behaving respectfully toward kids who DO wear them. The first case of a child who is bullied for wearing a mask in school should be handled swiftly and sternly, with a warning to anyone else that such behavior will not be tolerated.

Personal choice includes the choice to get the shot(s), wear a mask, and follow any other protocols necessary to stem the spread of a virus that has not quite been knocked out yet.

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