By: Brian Genest – Sept. 2021
There are a lot of lucky and loved kids in Dracut. If you saw the Dracut School Committee meeting about mandatory masks, you saw that love and caring for yourself firsthand from their parents. The usually silent majority stood up, spoke out and made impassioned pleas on behalf of their children.
Fourteen parents spoke about the mandatory mask mandate at the meeting—three in favor and eleven against. Speaker after speaker presented facts and figures, shared their personal stories, and made their cases. While the majority of speakers focused on the importance of physical health, many parents also talked about the negative consequences that masks have had on their children when it comes to their psychological development, mental wellbeing, and social skills.
Parents shared painful examples of the ways their children are suffering. Some kids have anxiety and fear from wearing the masks. Some have physical pain because of chaffing from being masked for the 8-hour school day. Some won’t eat lunch because they can’t stand the smell in their masks all afternoon.
In their comments, parents covered many topics related to masks, but nearly all speakers touched on the importance of letting parents choose what’s right for their own children. One other theme also stood out: hypocrisy. The hypocrisy of school committee members meeting unmasked to talk about making kids wear masks in school. The hypocrisy of bureaucrats picking and choosing which guidance to follow and when. The hypocrisy of politicians at all levels who tell us to do one thing and then do another themselves.
Examples of hypocrisy cited by speakers included politicians ranging from the school committee to former President Barack Obama.
“I’m here to speak out against mandatory masking and the irony hasn’t been lost on me that we’re all able to comfortably discuss it with nary a mask in sight,” pointed out
Joseph Anello. “The CDC is nothing but a governing body that makes a recommendation. Last year, they did make a recommendation that the safest place for children was back in school. Nobody put children back in school when the CDC recommended that.”
Kevin Gavin mentioned similar topics. “I noticed nobody here is wearing a mask so, you guys, I don’t know if you can go out in public and not wear a mask and then potentially vote on something to have children wear masks in school,” he said. “Does anybody know how many children have died from COVID-19 during this whole pandemic? It’s 358 children out of 73 million. Those are the CDC numbers.”
“Two weekends ago, there was a large event on Martha’s Vineyard with 500 to 600 people in an enclosed tent. There was singing, dancing, eating, no social distancing, no one wearing a mask,” Lisa Lanteigne reminded the committee.
“When someone asked Governor Baker about this because he just ordered this mask mandate, his response was, and I quote him, ‘I expect that people will use their own judgment about these things.’ And for the very first time I actually agree with the governor that we should all be able to use our own judgment when it comes to what’s best for our bodies and our children.”
“Most children have had a very normal summer travelling, playing sports, going to the park, the beach,” Allison Stilian said. “Many have been unmasked and around friends throughout the community and beyond. How can we go backwards and mask them again?”
“Many children have been going out this entire time,” echoed Sarah Powling. “Currently, they can go to Red Sox games, NASCAR races, Canobie Lake, and just about every store and restaurant in this town without wearing a mask. The large majority of people in New England, including many sitting here right now, are going out to these public places with their children and not wearing masks.”
Lesson learned: Nothing stings worse than hypocrisy, except exposing the truth about that hypocrisy. Class dismissed.
—Brian Genest is the producer and host of Eye on Dracut on DATV Channel 8. Don’t miss the September episode with highlights from all 14 parents who spoke about the mask mandate. ◊