EDITORIAL

Left twisting in the wind

Posted 8/18/21

Federal public health departments aren't perfect. State public health officials are slightly less perfect. School Committees aren't public health officials. So their public health decisions are bound to be far from perfect. One theme united two very

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EDITORIAL

Left twisting in the wind

Posted

Federal public health departments aren’t perfect.

State public health officials are slightly less perfect.

School Committees aren’t public health officials. So their public health decisions are bound to be far from perfect.

One theme united two very different sides of a heated debate at this week’s Cranston School Committee meeting Monday night.

Rhode Island’s state government has abandoned town and city school districts, letting them twist in the winds of a complicated pandemic, failing to provide leadership at a time when leadership is sorely needed.

The masked faces in the crowd Monday night wanted children masked for school. The bare faces, bold in their demands for “parental choice,” severely doubted the need for masks.

Parents from both sides rattled off statistics fitting their argument. Statistics can be found to support or derail any school’s reopening plan.

That’s why it’s incredibly important for large health agencies, with scientists and data analysts on staff, to make sweeping public health policy.

The vast majority of School Committee members are not qualified to make public health decisions. Yet, in Rhode Island, they’ve been left to do exactly that.

Last year, as the Ocean State prepped its children for what promised to be a complicated year, parents were at least united in their fears and uncertainty.

Parents had a choice last year. They could keep their children home for distance learning, or send them to school, masked, during a pandemic.

No Rhode Island parent enjoyed making that decision. But at least they had a choice.

Now, as the 2021-22 school year approaches, the choices have been stripped away.

No one can blame parents for wanting options. No one can blame parents for wanting to keep their children safe.

Everyone can blame the state for playing the political safe-game and passing the buck to School Committees.

The Delta variant has complicated the situation. The one merciful twist to this pandemic has been its sparing of children in its path of destruction.

With the emergence of this latest mutation, children seem to be getting sicker, quicker, though the data set is far from conclusive.

All government agencies are capable of error. The biggest mistake, however, is to stall in the face of danger, paralyzed by indecision.

That’s where the Rhode Island Department of Health and the administration of Gov. Daniel McKee have left the Ocean State’s school officials and parents: twisting in the winds of an evolving pandemic, pitted against each other, locked in a screaming match nobody can win.

schools, masks

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