During the late 1960s and early 1970s, educating the driving public about the scientific data relating to and accepting the safety issues for both drivers and their passengers, to wear seat belts was monumental. I recall conversations similar to the comments we are now hearing about the face mask issue, from both sides of the issue.
I was employed as a teacher in the state of Washington at the time. We had community education sessions to educate people, “seat belts save lives.” Sessions for parents of infants and young children were given on how to use proper restraints. Washington State Patrol would be stationed at student drop-off areas by schools to check if parents were understanding the use of restraints. No arrests were made; only suggestions and warnings. This organized community effort was non-threating. “Buckling-up” soon became an accepted habit for most families.
Now in 2020/2021, our communities are faced with scientific data telling us that wearing face masks helps save lives and can reduce serious illness associated with the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, the leaders have not been able to organize and guide us through the pandemic. They have created a division on how to live and help each other gain control of this horrible virus versus, “Don’t do anything; it’s not serious!”
The recent decision made by the Bigfork School Board that the staff and students will no longer be required to wear face masks was not based on scientific data. The education of Bigfork students’ needs to be top priority of the school board during this time. That includes the health and safety of the staff and students to be able to continue in-person learning, now and in the future.
I suggest that the Bigfork School Board Directors meet with Flathead County Health Officer Joe Russell to be educated on the steps needed to continue in-person learning and prioritize the health and safety of the Bigfork school staff and students to minimize the spread of the virus. The Bigfork School Board could also request that the staff have access to the current vaccine, immediately. The Bigfork School District staff and students deserve this response and support. Over 25 states are making sure their teachers have access to the vaccine.
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