MASSENA — With the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise, it was back to masks again for Thursday night’s board of education meeting in Massena. But some parents don’t want their children masked when school reopens in the fall using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social distancing and the wearing of masks.
“This is a dust mask. The data suggests that both medical and non-medical face masks are ineffective to block human-to-human transmission of viral and infectious diseases, including COVID-19,” Shelly Matthes-Bell said after Superintendent Patrick Brady had briefed board members on the district’s reopening plans.
She said that, according to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 643 children under age 18 died from influenza in 2017 and 2018, 477 died from influenza in 2018 and 2019, and 434 died from influenza in 2019 and 2020.
“The CDC reports that 423 total deaths in children from COVID-19 as of 8/11/2021. So the influenza is far more deadly than COVID-19. Yet we do not mandate these ridiculous masks during flu season,” said Ms. Matthes-Bell, whose daughter will be attending seventh grade.
In addition, she said, there were “legitimate health concerns” for some children wearing masks when it wasn’t necessary.
“We’ve been mask-less all summer. People have been playing sports. We participate in sports, close contact sports. There’s concerts. The fair is going on. People are out there at the fair touching these rides, They’re not making them sanitize before and after getting off these rides. They’re sitting right next to each other. There’s major league sporting events. They’re not wearing masks at these places, so why are we doing this to our children?” she said.
Ms. Matthes-Bell asked if anyone had researched the negative effects of wearing the masks.
“Because that’s all I’ve done for weeks is try to read up and understand why my daughter’s face breaks out when she wears these. I’m not a medical professional. I’m not highly intelligent by any means. But I know that I’m here to advocate for my daughter. And I’m very concerned about the potential problems because of these masks,” she said.
She told board members that her daughter was born deaf and uses cochlear implants. She said that when her daughter comes home after school, she doesn’t want to wear the device that allows her to hear “because the mask and cochlear implants rub her ears raw by the end of the day. She would rather be deaf than have to wear it. That’s a concern for me. I have friends that are speech teachers. They teach kids with autism and other learning disabilities, and it’s a hindrance to have that mask covering their face, and they end up pulling it down anyway.”
Mike Nezezon also shared his concerns. Among them was the procedure for quarantining after his son had been quarantined three times last year when he didn’t need to be.
Mr. Nezezon said he was recently employed at the village’s Department of Public Works and had to tell his supervisor, Superintendent Hassan Fayad that his son was quarantined.
“I’m out of work for 10 days. This happened a second and third time through the course of the year because he was exposed to several children in the classroom. I’ve used up pretty much all my sick time,” he said. “Why are we sending them home for every cough or sniffle? I understand the concern and trying to keep them safe, but where do we draw that line? What is the protocol going to be this year? It’s a big concern for me.”
Mr. Nezezon also shared his thoughts about masks. He said the virus was “smaller than a sheet rock particle,” but they were advised not to wear that mask when working with sheet rock.
“I’ve been in the construction business. I’ve been in teaching. I’ve been in quite a few things. But the point being is, do you really believe that this works?” he asked. “Did these masks stop the spread of this virus? I don’t believe it did. I believe the vaccination had a big play in it.”
Tammy White said her children have had several sinus infections and have been sicker than any previous year “and not because of COVID. You know these masks aren’t helping them.”
She said her son caught COVID from another student in class.
“I think they got it outside when they didn’t have masks on. But he was in our household. We did not separate the two kids. None of us had it. We all got tested. He was the only one positive. So do the masks help? No, I don’t think they do,” Ms. White said.