EDITORIAL: It's just a mask

York Dispatch Editorial Board
Susquehannock Senior Class President Allie Abel sports the Warrior mask during commencement exercises at the school Thursday, May 27, 2021. The school graduated 225 students. Bill Kalina photo

For God's sake, it's just a mask. Just a simple cloth that covers the nose and mouth and has been proven to dramatically cut down on the spread of COVID-19.

What's more, no one is mandating masks any more. People, including schoolchildren, are free to go into any school, business, church or other public place without a face covering. 

And no school districts in York County are suggesting that students will have to wear masks when they return to school in the fall. As health and safety plans are being passed, districts are saying no to mask mandates and that they will consider guidelines from the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when making any changes.

More:CDC recommends unvaccinated individuals wear masks indoors at K-12 schools

More:Parents pressure West Shore, Eastern York school boards against mask mandates when no mandates are planned

But for many parents, that assurance isn't good enough. West Shore parents called the district's plan "unacceptable," because it "leaves the door open" for future mandates. They asked the board to give parents the power to choose whether their children wear masks at school.

One parent at West Shore said she pulled her son out of a school there because she is convinced the district will require masks by fall. Another parent at Eastern York said she didn't care if her kids catch COVID-19 or if the district loses state money by defying mandates, as long as the kids are in class in person and not wearing masks.

Seriously? You would rather pull your children out of school than have them wear a mask, and the school board saying they don't have to wear a mask isn't good enough for you? 

You would rather have your children contract a highly contagious and serious disease as well as have your district lose state funding rather than have children wear a simple mask in class?

There are plenty of other things mandated by schools that these parents presumably go along with. There is a list of vaccinations children must have before enrolling, to make sure that diseases like measles, mumps and rubella are kept under control. In Pennsylvania, about 3% of schoolchildren have an exemption and do not receive vaccines, according to the CDC, leaving 97% of children going along with the mandate.

Then there are the various drills schools put kids through. The fire drills, the bad weather drills. And don't forget the active shooter drills, where children are taught to block doors and the best places to hide if there is a dangerous person in the building. These lessons came in really handy for younger congressional staffers on Jan. 6, by the way.

Presumably all the parents in the districts are OK with their children going through the trauma of squeezing into a closet with their classmates and being completely silent while their teacher turns off the lights and school officials rattle doors to make sure they're locked. 

And yet the possibility that their children someday, maybe, might possibly have to wear a mask during class is the hill they're fighting on. Even when school boards say they don't plan to require masks. 

Perhaps we need to look at the bigger picture here. There is a global pandemic that is still going on. Cases locally have dropped, but the virus is still around, and less than half of the population of York County is fully vaccinated. 

Children will be sitting in classrooms this fall. School boards are saying they will not have to wear masks, but that could change as conditions evolve.

What's the best way to ensure that your child can go to school mask free? Get your shots and stop the spread of the coronavirus.