Gasconade R-2 survey respondents voice opinion on mask mandate

By Roxie Murphy, Staff Writer
Posted 11/25/20

An anonymous survey published Thursday afternoon on The Republican’s Facebook page about the Gasconade County R-2 board’s Nov. 16 decision to implement a mask mandate within the district …

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Gasconade R-2 survey respondents voice opinion on mask mandate

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An anonymous survey published Thursday afternoon on The Republican’s Facebook page about the Gasconade County R-2 board’s Nov. 16 decision to implement a mask mandate within the district received 100 responses from the Owensville/Gerald communities.

According to the survey that was closed at 11 a.m. on Monday morning, 83 of 100 community respondents said they have a student in the district — of which 26 said a mask mandate should be implemented. Another 49 said a mask mandate should not be implemented and the other eight said maybe a mask mandate should be implemented.

The remaining 17 of the 100 community members surveyed who do not have students in the district were mostly in favor of a mask mandate. According to those responses, 12 said a mask mandate should be implemented, four said a mask mandate should not be implemented, and one said maybe.

A respondent who said they have a child in school and agrees that a mask mandate should be implemented responded that, “Science shows that masks help stop the spread Covid-19 and if there would have been a statewide mandate from the start we wouldn’t have the rate of infection and deaths we currently have now.”

Other responses included that if a mask mandate keeps children in school, then it should be implemented; virtual learning doesn’t work, so everything including a mask mandate, should be implemented to keep kids in school; and a mask mandate should be implemented to keep students from being quarantined and allow them to continue extracurricular activities.

A person who wrote that they have a child in school and are not for the mask mandate said, “If we as parents feel our children are safe in the school atmosphere without a mask, why should the educators make our choices for us? They should not. I feel that my children can go through a normal school day (classes, lunch, bathroom, PE, etc.) without the mask. The children must be exposed to the virus to build immunities. The family doctor I’ve questioned as well as the nurses and other medical professionals who have answered my questions without the necessity of a hidden agenda or opinion, have given me information. Then we make decisions for our children. The negative impact of wearing a mask all day long through school AND during sports is NOT what I want my children doing. If a parent chooses, their child can wear it. If not, children should NOT be forced. Right now they are being forced.”

Others against the mask mandate have cited that their child has asthma, or another disease, that affect the ability to breathe; freedom from being forced to do something they don’t wish to do; citing that science does not support that a mask will stop the virus; and how forcing children to cover their faces for an illness can be psychologically degrading and increase anxiety.

An individual who said they have a child in the district and answered “maybe” said, “I think elementary students will be worse off in the mask. I feel that they will drop them, snot in them, touch them, lick them. I feel they are too young to understand what is going on and how to prevent the spread so don’t make them wear them.”

Others who have children in the district and said maybe a mask mandate should be in effect expressed concern that they didn’t think the masks would work or felt some classes should be exempt — “such as elementary school students who do not understand the proper way to wear a mask.” Another individual felt that, “COVID, like the flu, is here to stay,” and that “immunities must be built and mankind must persevere.”

Responses were likewise mixed for those who do not have students in the district.

This respondent does not have a student in the district but feels a mask mandate should be in place,

“Because too many people in this county laugh in the face of this devastating virus, thinking they’re making some big political statement by not wearing one, therefore putting all of us at risk. The kids see their parents acting like that and, naturally follow suit. Downplaying the effectiveness of the mask is why the numbers keep growing like they are.”

Another respondent who does not have a student in the district, but feels the district, “Should have a mandate to keep students from being quarantined if possible if they are not Covid positive.”

Others within the category specify that the mandate should be in place to protect all Americans regardless of age.

Those who say they do not have a student in the district and feel a mask mandate should not be in place said, “I feel they should not mandate because viruses are contracted in more ways and a mask isn’t fully effective. I also believe it’s not the government’s job to tell the citizens what to do. The government’s job is to protect and run our country like a business, not tell us how to live our lives. This is a free country and the government works for us. The government has seemed to have forgotten that!”

Others who also do not have a child in school and feel a mask mandate should not be in place pointed to children with breathing problems caused by diseases; disagreed that a mask should be worn during physical activity or felt that it was too little, too late to be effective.

Respondents had several concerns across the board.

Some felt that parents’ rights were being taken away; others wanted to know who would be paying for and purchasing the masks; another believed that the mandate was fear-mongering and the health risks to masks outweighed the benefits; still another thought that masks would make kids feel “bullet-proof” and they would lose sight of following the other practices that work. Others wanted to know how it would be possible to police and maintain the policy effectively.

Many wanted to know why something that so affects their children was not brought to the parents before being passed by the board of education. Another parent said they have already pulled their child from school.

“These are our children. We deserve the chance to bring forth our beliefs. If mask mandates are here to stay. Then not letting kids who virtual learn play sports has to change as well.”

The Gasconade County R-2 Board of Education extended their mask protocol — effectively beginning the district’s mask mandate for K-12 students — on Nov. 16 with a 7-0 vote. Two parents were present and addressed the board about their concerns at the meeting.

Questions gleaned from the survey by The Republican and answered by Superintendent Dr. Chuck Garner are also available in this edition (see story on page 1).

(Roxie Murphy covers the Gasconade R-2 and Maries R-2 school districts for The Gasconade County Republican and the Maries County Advocate).

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