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Our opinion: A school of thought on masks

The Warren County School District plans to open in August with a “masks optional” policy — for now.

Of course, the words “for now” are the most important words in that sentence. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that fully vaccinated people begin wearing masks indoors again in places with high COVID-19 transmission rates. The agency is also recommending children wear masks in schools this fall. In mid-May, the CDC said fully vaccinated people didn’t need to wear masks in most settings, whether indoors or outdoors.

In our opinion, parents should prepare their children now to be ready to wear masks in school at some point this year. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently recommended “everyone older than age 2 wear masks, regardless of vaccination status” in schools, and it’s likely that if there are spikes in COVID-19 later this year that the CDC and AAP recommendations will become requirements.

It would be nice if that didn’t happen. Warren County’s remote location and evenly distributed population could mean Warren County doesn’t see the projected fall/winter increase in COVID-19 cases. Perhaps there have been enough vaccinations here that COVID-19 and its delta variant don’t spread here this winter.

No one knows, but luck favors the prepared. If masks do become a requirement to attend school, it isn’t the end of the world. Millions of students nationwide attended school in 2020-21 wearing masks, and the vast majority of those students were just fine.

Most students learn better when they are physically in school with their teachers. It’s an inconvenience, but a tolerable one for the benefits that in-person learning provides.

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